Yesterday’s conditions for testing in advance of today’s Offshore Powerboat Association World Championships in Englewood Beach, Fla., laid down a bit to the point of looking flat—but they weren’t. There were solid three-footers, with the rogue four- to five-footers and the odd surprise hole out there today, which is why I have to admit I’m a little sore from driving the Saris Racing Engines V-bottom in the Class 4 contest. But more on that later.
There was plenty of high-flying action today during the first round of the OPA World Championships in Englewood Beach (click image to enlarge). Photos courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
There were four races today and—across the board—the teams put on a great show for the fans. Englewood beach absolutely loves having OPA here this weekend, and I’ve heard that from locals everywhere I’ve been since we arrived.
The day started with the Class 5 and Super V Light contests. Running their only race of the season since the season-opener in Point Pleasant Beach, N.J., which they won, the team RUFSTR father-and-son duo Ken and E.J. Salamone returned in fine form to take the Class 5 win.
“It’s been awhile and I’ve missed it,” said RUFSTR driver E.J. Salamone. “Today was a ton of fun. We have been using the boat on the lake this summer but didn’t want to miss the world championship. We haven’t won a world title before and we really want to win one at some point.
The Salamones’ return to racing in Englewood Beach couldn’t have gone better.
“We had a good battle with Done Deal,” he added. “We made a mistake in one turn and they got under us. They made the same mistake in the same turn we got past them. Then it was a matter of fending them off. It was really fun.”
Steve Papp and Mike Mironyk dominated the Super Vee Light field in another Done Deal entry. (The Done Deal boat that runs in Class 5 is owned and operated by another team.)
In the second race of the day, Steve Miklos and Steve Fehrmann ran hard as usual in Sunprint Management to take first place in the six-boat Super Vee Lite Extreme class. The Class 6 win went to Smith Brothers/CRC Racing, which came into Englewood Beach as the 2018 national champion in that category, and Woah Momma (another Woah Momma team currently competes in Super V Light) took the Class 7 victory.
As they were during the recent SBI Key West Offshore World Championships, the Sunprint Management team of Steve Miklos and Steve Fehrmann were plenty fast today.
“We got a good start and were able maintain it,” Miklos told speedonthewater.com’s Matt Trulio via telephone interview after the race. “We were pretty close on the prop and the setup. The boat was good and predictable. The water was pretty challenging. It was rougher than it looked.”
With Classes 2, 3 and 4 and Super Stock in the field, the third race of the day was exciting and eventful, to say the least. Nick Scafidi and Scott Porta took the Super Stock win in Shadow Pirate.
Nick Scafidi and Scotta Porta ran the Shadow Pirate catamaran to a Super Stock-classs win today.
John Robinson and Greg DiRenzo rolled the 30-foot Cape Haze Marina-backed Skater catamaran—owned by offshore racing veteran Ryan Beckley—on the first straightaway of the first lap. The boat came to rest right-side-up.
“Greg and John are OK,” said Beckley. “I’m not sure what the damage to the boat is—I haven’t seen it yet. I know the outboard cowlings are gone. The boat is coming up here, my shop is about 40 minutes to an hour from Englewood Beach, for repairs. If we can get it running and they both feel like running again, it will be back in time to race tomorrow.”
Saris Racing Engines was pushed to the limit by Perdition in its Class 4 victory.
Familiar names to OPA racing fans, Bull On The Beach took the Class 3 victory and Wazzup finished first in Class 2. In Class 4, we took the checkered flag in Saris Racing Engines, but the Perdition team of J.J. Turk and Brian Williamson pushed the hell out of us. If we made a mistake, we were toast.
The last race of the day saw Miss GEICO’s Steve Curtis and James Sheppard pretty much spank everybody in the Extreme class. CRC/Sunlight Supply ran hard and kept it close for a bit, but Miss GEICO, the 2018 SBI Unlimited-class national champion, eventually pulled away from CT Marine, which pulled out of the contest early, and Stotler Turbo.
Even an engine problem on the final lap wasn’t enough to slop the Miss GEICO charge.
As expected, Miss GEICO dominated the Extreme class today.
“We were so far ahead we just cruised in on one engine,” said Curtis. “Gary (Stray, Miss GEICO’s crew chief) is looking at it now but I’m sure they’ll get it taken care of before tomorrow’s race.
The Super Cat class ran with the Extreme class. But unfortunately for Aaron Hope and Anthony Smith in AMH Motorsports, who notched impressive first- and second-place finishes at the recent Super Boat International Offshore World Championship in Key West, Fla., they had to run uncontested as competition did not materialize in the Super Cat ranks for this weekend’s OPA event.
The owner of the S-111 Super Stock-class team 30-foot Skater sponsored this weekend by Cape Haze Marina, Ryan Beckley is hoping to get his boat repaired in time to run tomorrow in Englewood Beach. Photo courtesy/copyright Ryan Beckley/Kinetic Animation.
A couple of things worth nothing. First, all results are still unofficial pending OPA verification.
Check out the slideshow above for more action from today’s races.
Second, and maybe even more important? Tomorrow’s races are double-points contests. And that means everything remains wide open for the 2018 OPA World Championships chase.
Editor’s Note: Veteran offshore racer Johnny Saris covers the OPA circuit for speedonthewater.com.