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OPA World Championships Preview: Wide Open Field

The Offshore Poweboat Association World Championships during the Englewood Beach Waterfest in Florida are almost here. This Saturday, the beautiful Gulf of Mexico waters and serene town of Englewood Beach will turn into offshore racing paradise.

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AMH Motorsports is one of several teams that is headed for the OPA World Championship in Englewood Beach, Fla., this weekend after competing in Key West last week. Photo courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.

I’m actually on the road to Englewood Beach right now, and I can’t wait to get there to race in the Class 4 Saris Racing Engines boat with my father, Jason.

There will be two days of racing, three or four races per day, on Saturday and Sunday. Based on the marine forecast, I’m expecting a smooth day on the course followed by a rough one. While I don’t have a registration sheet/roster for this week’s competition so I can’t tell you precisely which teams have committed to show up, here’s a quick look at what could be on tap this weekend

•Class 2—With three times the national points of its nearest competitor, Bat Boat has to be the outfit to beat in this four-team field.

•Class 3—Just 22 national points separate Wazzup from Strictly Business so you know they’re evenly matched—and I’m certain both with show up in Englewood Beach.

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In the two-team Class 3 contest, Wazzup will compete against Strictly Business.

•Class 4American Outlaw led this category in national points, but the Class 4 battle always turns out to be a good one. I’d pick Saris Racing Engines to win, but that would be a teensy conflict of interest. Plus, the Perdition team is coming down—I’m hauing their boat to the races—and they stomped us last year.

•Class 5—This category could produce some of the larger fleets of the weekend. National points leader Specialized Racing has to be considered the favorite. Also of note, the RUFSTR team reportedly is coming “out of semi-retirement” to compete in Englewood Beach.

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In Englewood Beach, Class 5 reportedly will see the return of the RUFSTR team.

•Class 6—Another big turnout is pretty much guaranteed from Class 6, which had 10 teams compete in various OPA races throughout the regular season and saw Smith Brothers/CRC earn the most national points.

•Class 7—With 13 teams competing this year, this is OPA’s largest category. Season-points leader The Punisher/Dawson Custom Marine comes into the event as the favorite based on this year’s performances.

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Smith Brothers/CRC has to be the top pick to claim a Class 6 world championship.

•Super Vee Light/Super Vee Xtreme—This one should be epic as always. The SVL-class guys, such as national points leader Done Deal, have their setups tweaked to perfection and it’s anybody’s race. It’s also a big class with five regular-season boats plus a few from SBI team, which run in OPA’s Super Vee Xtreme class, making the trek from last week’s Super Boat International Offshore World Championships in Key West.

•Super Stock—Speedonthewater.com’s Matt Trulio tells me that, according to one of his most reliable source, at least four teams—national points leader Shadow Cat, Cape Haze Marina, Killer Bee and Deep V Cats will compete in this class. All four of those teams competed last week in the SBI Key West Worlds, so they’re coming into Englewood Beach with lots of seat time. The only wild card is Killer Bee. The new 32-foot Doug Wright catamaran rolled Sunday in Key West and the team is hustling to get it ready for Key West.

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Shadow Pirate comes into Englewood Beach as the Super Stock-class team to beat. Photo courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.

•Super Cat—While there has been plenty of social media buzz on Super Cats coming to Englewood Beach, it impossible to confirm at this point exactly which teams will be there. But the AMH Motorsports team did earn the most national points in the class this season, and after an impressive performance in Key West last week that saw driver/owner Aaron Hope and throttleman Anthony Smith second- and first-place finishes in the first two races, they have to be considered the favorites. And they’re committed to being in Englewood Beach.

•ExtremeMiss GEICO didn’t run in Key West, so you can bet throttleman Steve Curtis and driver James Sheppard will be ready to get after it against the Stotler Turbo/Scuderia Cazzani Offshore Racing team of owner/driver Serafino “Jimmy” Cazzani, who will be running their first race of the season in Englewood Beach.

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Having skipped the SBI Key West Worlds, the Miss GEICO is eager to get back on the water in Englewood Beach. Photo courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.

Editor’s Note: Veteran offshore racer Johnny Saris covers the OPA circuit for speedonthewater.com.

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