After a two-week break, the teams of the Offshore Performance Association (OPA) retuned to the beautiful state of Michigan for the organization’s International Offshore Power Boat Race in Port Huron. In most cases one town or city gets to claim the race as its own and reap the benefits from the influx of racers and spectators for the weekend. But that’s not the case for this event as two cities and two countries organized this race together. The towns of Port Huron, Mich., and Sarnia, Ontario, Canada, joined forces for a true international event.
With a 900-hp engine powering his 26-foot V-bottom, Tyler Crockett earned the Class 4 win. Photos courtesy/copyrght Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix
While the course is on the “same river” as that of the St Clair River Classic, the conditions are very different, as is the course layout. Unlike St. Clair, the current is not as strong and the water is less turbulent, but still a factor in the smaller-boat classes.
Two teams—both based out of Michigan—were the ones to watch in Class 4. Local engine builder Tyler Crockett of Crockett Marine Engines always puts on a great show for the fans in his 26-foot Joker V-bottom. The boat was originally built for Class 5, but Crockett wanted to do more and go faster so he moved up to Class 4. (Imagine the excitement that comes when a 26-foot boat with a single 900-plus-hp engine takes on a 34-foot Phantom with twin engines equaling almost the same horsepower as the smaller boat.)
Jim Simmons of Simmons Marine, who happens to be good friends with Crockett, went head to head with his buddy in the second race of the day where the two teams were side by side for most of the event until the red flag came out due to commercial traffic. Initially the race was going to be restarted allowing the teams to complete the necessary laps. But upon further review—and one more race to complete—the officials agreed to end the race giving the win to Crockett and driver George Eisenhart.
Redemption is the word that come to mind for the Super Cat class. (Check out Matt Trulio’s commentary on the class on the home page of OffshoreOnly.com tomorrow.) Broadco took the win just two weeks before over AMSOIL in OPA’s St. Clair event. As reported, that was the first race for the AMSOIL team which admitted before the race that it was a whole new setup for the boat and the team was just trying to dial it in.
At OPA’s event in Port Huron, AMSOIL notched its first victory of the season in only its second race in 2014.
After testing last Saturday in Port Huron, AMSOIL throttleman Bob Teague (who ran with driver Paul Whittier) said he was very happy with his Skater catamaran’s setup and looking forward to Sunday.
Also testing on Saturday, the Broadco Marine Technology Inc., cat looked like a thing of beauty. Throttleman Grant Bruggemann and driver/owner Chuck Broaddus looked perfectly in sync. Based on how AMSOIL and Broadco ran in testing, they appeared to be the pre-race favorites. Of course, the Cleveland Construction team hoped to throw a wrench in the plans.
At the start, Broadco jumped to the early lead and AMSOIL chased. When the boats came back into view of the spectator area after the first lap, AMSOIL had taken the lead and never let it go. (Asked via text by Trulio to describe the race just before the door closed on his flight back to California, Teague responded with one word: “Fast.”) AMSOIL took the checkered flag, which gives both teams one win so far this season.
With the recent cancellation of the Long Island, N.Y., event, the next race on the OPA circuit is in Detroit (Sept. 5-7).