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OPA Tackles The Rough Stuff In Ocean City

Offshore Powerboat Association competition proved it is alive and well at the Ocean City Grand Prix yesterday. Sponsored by Bull On The Beach, the Maryland event attracted 35 teams and supplied fans with epic offshore action in four- to six-foot seas.


Bull On The Beach team owner Phil Houck sponsored the event—and the boat prevailed in its class. Photo from the 2018 OPA Point Pleasant Grand Prix courtesy/copyright Tim Sharkey/Sharkey Images.

The first race at noon included Class 6, 7 and Pro Stock V. Brit Lilly and Kevin Smith in the Tug It/Hurricane of Awesomeness Pro Stock V ranks had a commanding run in the big water and took home the checkered flag. Class 6 saw great action between Smith Brothers Racing and NuWave Marine. Peter and Rich Smith gave the 26-foot Scarab of NuWave Marine a great run for their money but ultimately Fran Vell and the NuWave Marine team came out on top in another rough water win for his team. (Worth mentioning: The single outboard engine-powered Class 7 boats easily won the “most air” award of the day.) Coming out victorious in Class 7 in their 22-foot Progression were the Reilly boys in Shadow Pirate (no relation to the Super Stock team of the same name).

The second race went off at 1:30 p.m. and by then the seas had grown a bit to include the odd eight-foot foot behemoth mixed in with the four- to six-foot slop. Just as you would get a rhythm down—bam—and off to the moon you went. Adjusting on the fly to the brutal conditions, OPA race control took the laps off of the count for all classes in this race. The fleet included Classes 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5, as well as Vee Extreme.

Bull On The Beach and Bounty Hunter, the only catamarans on the course, both won their Class 1 and 2 races. The Vee Extreme entry of Knucklehead/Instigator, with Anthony Smith and Ed Smith (no relation to OPA head Ed “Smitty” Smith, the father of Anthony Smith) on board, had a dominating run in the nasty water. They not only won their class but earned the overall winner bragging rights as well.

The Bronx Phantom Team of Rob and Vinny Winowski took Class 5 honors after an unfortunate breakdown from the Shoreline Plumbing 30 foot Superboat. John Coen, Jr., was running extremely well in the Class 5 Shoreline Plumbing entry before a mechanical issue took the team out of the race.

Class 4 had a great battle between Team Perdition and Saris Racing EnginesSimmons Marine battled hard as well but backed off a few laps in. Brian Williamson and his brand new driver, Jon Thornton, ran an absolutely perfect race until a mechanical gremlin forced their retirement one lap early. They traded the lead back and forth with us every lap and I’m sure it would have been like that to the finish. Suffice to say, Jon is hooked on racing and I’m sure will remain a familiar face on the circuit.

Nick Smith and his father Ed “Smitty” Smith ran their 38 Fountain Wazzup flawlessly giving them a first-place finish over Strictly Business, another Fountain Class 3 entry. Overall, the Ocean City Offshore Grand Prix went off without a hitch. And much of the credit for that has to out to Phil Houck of the Bull On The Beach for making it all happen. Nobody rolls out the red carpet for the racers like he does.


Editor’s Note: A frequent contributor to speedonthewater.com, Johnny Saris (above, far right) is a veteran offshore racer who competes on the Offshore Powerboat Association circuit.

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