That the Offshore Powerboat Association was able to pull off three events this year—two in Morehead City, N.C., and one at the Lake of the Ozarks in Central Missouri—was no small feat. But with 12 events on its 2021 schedule, OPA president Ed Smith and company are on a mission not just to make up for the mostly lost 2020 season but to head into the new year with the largest event roster in OPA history.
The Offshore Powerboat Association will open its expansive 2021 season in Ocean City, Md. Photo from the 2018 Ocean City Grand Prix by Tim Sharkey copyright Sharkey Images.
“We’ve never had this many races on a schedule before,” Smith said, then laughed. “I think I’m nuts. But I love this sport.”
Here’s a quick look at the 2021 OPA schedule:
• April 30-May 2: Ocean City Grand Prix, Ocean City, Md.
• May 20-23, Thunder On Cocoa Beach, Cocoa Beach, Fla.
• June 3-5, Lake Race, Lake Ozarks, Mo.
• June 11-13, Point Pleasant Beach Grand Prix, Point Pleasant Beach, N.J.
• June 25-27, Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix, Sarasota, Fla.
• July 29-August 1,, St. Clair River Classic, St. Clair, Mich.
• August 5-8, Great Lakes Grand Prix, Michigan City, Ind.
• August 20-22, Elk Rapids Grand Prix, Elk Rapids, Mich.
• August 27-29, Solomons Grand Prix, Solomons Island, Md.
• September 10-12, Crystal Coast Grand Prix, Morehead City, N.C.
• October 7-9, Roar Offshore National Championships, Fort Myers Beach, Fla.
• November 18-21, Englewood Beach OPA World Championships/Waterfest, Fla.
An American Power Boat Association member-organization, the OPA is picking where it left off in the 2019 with a six-race—Cocoa Beach, Lake Ozarks, Sarasota, St. Clair, Michigan City and Fort Myers Beach—National Championship Series. Those races, plus all others on the 2021 OPA roster, count toward APBA High Points Championships in all applicable classes.
The Offshore Powerboat Association will return to Englewood Beach, Fla., for its 2021 World Championships. Photo from the 2019 OPA Worlds by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
At a more grassroots level, the organization also plans to have a Northeast Championship Series in 2021 for teams in the region that lack the time or the means to travel beyond their regional race venues.
“There will be a Northeast Championships,” said Smith. “It’s basically for the northern boats that can’t make that many trips to Florida.”
Smith will finalize and announce the events in that series, plus another special event he’s keeping under wraps until it is finalized, in early 2021. For the next couple of weeks he’s enjoying a well-earned break from the race-planning world though—as always—he can’t wait get back on the racecourse soon enough.
“Right now, I just want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas,” he said.