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OPA Worlds Close Out Season With Rowdy, Rain-Drenched Races

Without at least one hurdle to clear, this weekend’s Offshore Powerboat Association Crystal Coast World Championships in Morehead City, N.C., wouldn’t have qualified as a proper 2020 event. Then again, the light-to-moderate rain that persisted throughout most of today’s contests and delayed the start of the opening race on the 4.5-mile course by 45 minutes, isn’t much of a hurdle by this year’s benthic standards.

On its way to a Pro Stock V world title today, Done Deal delivered another exceptional performance. Photos by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.

Starting separately ahead of the Class 5 and Modified V fleets, the nine-boat Class 7 contest was slated for five laps. But near the middle of the 22.5-mph contest highlighted by an inches-tight battle between Jackhammer—a new Class 7 team out of the same Midwest camp that took Friday’s Super Stock-class victory—and Nauti Boys, the Jackhammer boat spun and spit out throttleman Julian Maldonado and driver Wency Soto. Though neither sustained serious injuries, OPA officials called the race with Nauti Boys in first place.

But with an official first-place finish Friday and an unofficial fourth-place finish today, Evil Ways likely exits Morehead City with the Class 7 world title.

The Class 7 race featured some of the tightest racing during’s Sunday competition.

In the eight-lap, 36-mile Class 5 race, Agora Day Spa took the checkered flag, just as it did in Friday’s contest. But the team broke out of its speed bracket on Friday and Reindl Powerboats took the win that day. That left the Hungry Howie’s, which officially took first on Friday and unofficially claimed fourth today, looking good—though again unofficially so—for the OPA Class 5 world title.

No such ambiguity existed in the 10-lap, 45-mile Modified V-class contest. Brian Forehand wasted little time establishing a giant lead over Sun Print, 151 Express and Defiance in Marker 17 Marine, his 29-foot Outerlimits. But as he did on Friday, Forehand exited the racecourse under tow with a mechanical issue before the contest was complete. That moved Sun Print, a 29-foot Extreme that had been holding a distant second place, into first place. The team went on to take the checkered flag—and the OPA Modified V-class world championship.

“We decided earlier that we weren’t go to go for the win today, which was a good thing since we lost our steering for two laps,” said Steve Miklos, the owner and throttleman of the Sun Print team. “But Brian had some bad fortune and we were able to capitalize and get the championship. We are super happy—we worked a lot of late nights to make this happen and we have an incredibly hard-working, dedicated crew of 20 people behind us.”

Though Miklos and Sun Print driver Steve Fehrmann typically prefer rough-water courses, they appreciated this weekend’s multi-turn course layout in Morehead City.

“We like turns,” Fehrmann said, then chuckled. “We do a lot of karting back home.”

The Sun Print team of Steve Miklos and Steve Fehrmann earned their second checkered flag of the weekend today—and earned a Modified V-class title in the process.

Miklos dedicated Sun Print’s 2020 world title to Mark Spates, the designer of Extreme V-bottoms, who died in August 2019. “This one is for Mark,” he said.

Today’s second wave of racing, which began after singer Veronica Welch delivered a stunning a capella rendition of the National Anthem followed by a 45-minute weather delay, featured Classes 4, 3 and 6, as well as the nine-boat Pro-Stock fleet. Though the Class 4 Snow Blower team crossed the finish line first in its 10-lap, 45-mile race, Tsunami finished first on Friday but did not compete today. (The team reportedly departed Morehead City last night.)

In a points tabulation scenario that surely will keep Dee Ungarten, OPA’s longtime, dedicated scorer busy before tonight’s awards ceremony, the Typhoon team unofficially finished third today and officially claimed second place Friday. The Old School team unofficially finished in second place today but officially took third place Friday. Unofficially again, that would put the Old School Cigarette first in line for the Class 4 world title.

There was zero such ambiguity in Class 6. As it did on Friday, the Rum Runners team prevailed in today’s seven-lap, 31.-5-mile contest. Barring breakouts or penalties, the team will head home with an OPA world title.

The third and second starts of race No. 2 featured the Class 3 and Pro Stock V—and in their own distinctly different ways both races were dominated by the team that took the checkered flag. Team Woody ran the 10-lap, 45-mile Class 3 contested uncontested to take the win and the world title. As they did on Friday, owner/driver Steve Papp and driver Charlie McCarthy of the Done Deal/Chopper Propellers team led their 10-lap 45-mile race from start to finish ahead of eight other Pro Stock V teams today.

“We changed the bottom of the boat this winter and it was game-changer—it allowed us to run a taller propeller and still accelerate really well,” said Papp, who was quick to credit his daughter, Allyson, for her ongoing hard work and support. “And I had Charlie McCarthy driving and he did a fantastically great job behind the wheel.

“We had the advantage of racing here five weeks ago so we came here confident and knowing what we had to do,” he added. “This is the last race for this boat—we’re building a new Phantom for next year.”

Saving what has become offshore racing’s most intriguing class for last, today’s final race featured the seven-boat Super Stock class with a start separate from the combined start of Miss GEICO, running solo as Talisman remained in the wet pits with a reported electrical issue in Class 1, and Knucklehead Racing, the solo entry in the Vee Extreme class. The contest was the first for Miss GEICO driver Travis Pastrana, the extreme motorsports superstar who joined the team this season, in race conditions.

Steve Curtis (left) and Travis Pastrana shared the cockpit of Miss GEICO for the second time and final time this season.

As they did in Friday’s race, the STR team of its two-time F1H2O world champion namesake on the throttles and driver Eric Belisle shot to an early lead in their 10-lap 45-mile contest in the 32-foot Doug Wright catamaran. But this time around they never let it go. Unfortunately for the Jackhammer team of owner/driver Reese Langheim and throttleman Ricky Maldonado in their 32-foot Victory, they could not duplicate Friday’s performance and found themselves near the back of the pack.

The Friday breakdown of STR and Jackhammer’s tough outing in the early going of today’s race appeared to open the Super Stock world-championship door for the Phase 5 team of owner/driver Albert Penta and throttleman Jay Muller. Running a 32-foot Doug Wright catamaran that saw them take third overall in the Offshore At The Ozarks-Cat Edition, they finished second on Friday. If Phase 5 finished ahead of Jackhammer today, the team would take the Super Stock class world title.

Near the middle of the race, the LPC team of Loren Peters and Mike Wright rolled in the dogleg segment of the course heading into turn No. 3. Peters and Wright were unhurt. But per OPA’s standard safety procedures the race was red-flagged and—after a long delay in getting the overturned 32-foot LPC Doug Wright raceboat off the course—was restarted for the final four laps.

Check out the slideshow above for more images from the OPA Crystal Coast World Championships.

With the remainder of the Super Stock class idling during the extensive delay, teams were justifiably concerned about having enough fuel to complete the race.  The other concern was time—the Super Stock race restarted with less than 30 minutes to go before the Morehead City race permit expired.

The fresh start reshuffled the deck for the Super Stock fleet for what was planned to be the remaining four laps, but not for long. STR jumped ahead of the pack and continually extended its lead. The Wicked boat followed in second place, trailed by Phase 5 and Jackhammer. With two laps to go, STR fell off the pace and gave up the lead to Phase 5, which moments later got tangled with the Wicked Powerboats catamaran and rolled.

Neither Phase 5’s Penta nor Muller was injured. But with no time for a restart the race was over and Wicked, which sustained damage to its portside, had to be pulled from the water before it sank.

An incident between Wicked Powerboats and Phase 5 left the Phase 5 cat upside down, and Wicked with a large hole in its port side.

So where did that leave Super Stock in terms of a world champion? As this story went live, it appeared that Jackhammer took home the title.

“I don’t have the official results yet, but I think we won,” Langheim said.

Editor’s note: All results are unofficial pending verification from the Offshore Powerboat Association. For complete results as they become available, visit the organization’s website.

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