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OPA Detroit Wrap-Up: Success and Sadness

In any location, putting on an offshore powerboat race can be daunting. Combine with the logistics of organizing a race in a major metropolitan area—in this case Detroit— with the competition on international waters shared by the United States and Canada and the challenges increase dramatically. But Wes Wyatt and his staff did an excellent job pulling a great first time event—the Offshore Powerboat Association Detroit Downtown International Championships—on the Detroit River last weekend. A healthy contingent of racers came out to support the site with a total of 42 race boats, and it was “game on” for the Motor City.

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Shown here at OPA’s Port Huron, Michigan/Sarnia, Ontario, Canada event earlier this season, Cat Can Do prevailed in a wild Extreme-class battle. Photo courtesy Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.

For the Lilly Sport Boats team in the Super Vee Lite class, the 2014 season has been one of ups and downs. Detroit proved to be another one of those “down” events for the LSB team. At the start they lead up the back straight away around turns No. 3 and No. 4, accelerating out of the corner perfectly back toward the start-finish line.

But the hopeful buzz among the LSB crew members faded when Tug It took the lead and LSB slipped back to fourth with yet another mechanical issue. Tug It never let up and seemed to be putting on a clinic of how to run a Phantom V-bottom on the Detroit River. The LSB team tried to complete another lap but eventually pulled in with a broken power steering pump—another tough loss, though the team vows it will be ready for the upcoming OPA National and World Championships in Solomons Md.. Tug It cruised to an easy victory with Typhoon and Pirate Racing round out the top three.

The Extreme Class race was a battle of old versus new as Cat Can Do and Cintron went head to head for the first time this season. For the Cintron team, it was the first race since last year’s Super Boat International event in Sarasota, Fla., while Cat Can Do had raced twice this season.

Both teams tested on Saturday and looked great turning some awesome speeds setting up for a battle the next day. When the green flagged dropped Sunday, Cintron got the early lead but spun out between turns No. 2 and No. 4. Cintron kept running, but Cat Can Do established almost a full-length straightaway lead (roughly 2 miles).

So the question became: Would Cintron catch them? Within two laps Cintron did just that by passing Cat Can Do on the back straight going into turns No. 3 and No. 4. Cintron was back in the lead and again pulling away from Cat Can Do, but as the silver Cintron catamaran came back into view as it entered the corner the boat abruptly pulled off the course. During the spin they had broken an exhaust header, which took them out of the race and handed the win to Cat Can Do.

While the racing action and venue were first rate, the weekend ended on a tragic note. Clint Wright, the throttleman for the Steady Pumping team, collapsed after getting out of the boat when the race ended. First responders immediately started CPR on Wright and rushed him to the hospital. Unfortunately, they were unable to revive him and he passed away at the hospital.

Editor’s Note: Speedonthewater.com expresses its sincere condolences to the family and friends of Clint Wright.

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