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Racers Play Rough in OPA Season-Opener

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While the winner of the social media war of words was a toss-up, Miss GEICO bested ALEX AND ANI on the racecourse. All photos courtesy/copyright Tim Sharkey/Sharkey Images.

The 2016 Offshore Powerboat Association racing season opened yesterday to a healthy 35-boat fleet in rough seas off New Jersey’s Point Pleasant Beach. Dreary conditions including rain and wind kept most teams from practicing on Saturday, but the skies did stay clear long enough for the boat parade in the small town. Sunday’s water conditions included 3- to 5-foot seas—smaller than predicted—out of the east, and that made for some wild action, especially in the turns.

The first race of the day included Super Vee Lite, Class 5 and Class 7. In Class 7, Hangin and Bangin took the early lead with Wicked Racing in tow. The battle for third heated up as Aquaholic started to make some moves gaining ground on the leaders. At the halfway point Aquaholic had a comfortable gap over fourth but it was a little too late.The post-race review of the GPS units found that Hangin and Bangin broke out of its speed bracket, which handed the win to Wicked.

Class 5 saw Typhoon jump out to an early lead and set a good pace in the early laps. But the Reinforcer team would have something to say about that as it chipped away at Typhoon’s lead, and with just a few laps left Reinforcer made the pass taking the lead and checkered flag. Wazzup II rounded out the top three.

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Across all classes, the best action of yesterday’s Point Pleasant Grand Prix happened in the turns.

The second race would be the talk of town with Miss GEICO and ALEX AND ANI battling it out after a month-long, good-natured “war of words” on Facebook. The race started with two boats battling deck to deck for the first four laps of the race. Miss GEICO’s Marc Granet and throttleman Scott Begovich had the 44-foot catamaran dialed in and eventually pulled away from ALEX AND ANI for the win.

For the GEICO team, the win couldn’t have come at a better time as a jumped belt from an oil pump kept the boat from even starting (read the story) the Super Boat International season-opener the weekend prior in Cocoa Beach, Fla.

“We had a good run today—the boat felt great,” Granet told speedonthewater.com’s Matt Trulio via text message shortly after the race. “All systems ran perfectly. It was a great shakedown race, for sure.”

AMH Construction/Instigator made the race challenging for Wazzup and Strictly Business in Class 3 and prevailed in the rough conditions. Wazzup put on a great show, giving it all it had coming in second with Strictly Business in third.

The final group in the second race had a great first- and second-place battle with Your Gun Learn and Smith Brothers. Your Gun Learn jumped out to an early lead with Smith Brothers right behind. Every lap between turns three and four Smith Brothers would look to the inside trying to make a move and while it worked for a short while they could not make it stick allowing Your Gun Learn to take the win.

A few great notes to take away from the event:

Lightning Jacks is back on the water after taking a couple years off.
• Five new boats joined the OPA family this weekend.
• The ALEX AND ANI team did a fantastic job supporting the race site and the volunteers with giveaways.
• The OPA series heads to Central Missouri June 2-4 for The Lake Race on the Lake of the Ozarks.

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AMH Construction/Instigator notched its first victory of the OPA season.

Editor’s note: Offshore racer and announcer Mike Yowaiski is a frequent contributor to speedonthewater.com. For complete results—as they become available—for the Point Pleasant Grand Prix visit the OPA website.

Related story: SBI Cocoa Beach Season-Opener Delivers Delight and Disappointment