Weather Ends Final Day Of OPA Englewood Beach Worlds

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Racing: Weather Ends Final Day Of OPA Englewood Beach Worlds

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Never let it be said that Mother Nature lacks a dark side. After serving up a chamber of commerce forecast for the Saturday rounds of competition at the Offshore Powerboat Association’s world championships in Englewood Beach, Fla., she had other plans yesterday.

Though they didn’t get to run yesterday, LSB/Hurricane of Awesomeness departed Englewood with OPA and UIM world championships. All photos from Saturday’s action by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.

The second day of action dawned with threatening clouds and northeasterly winds that were solidly blowing 15 to 20 mph and gusting to 35. The buoy marking a dogleg turn to the left was as livestream announcer Brad Harrington said, “started floating to Texas” and the conditions challenged the competitors who did get to race.

There was an element of irony that couldn’t be ignored because part of the reason for even staging the event was to help the citizens of Englewood Beach continue to recover from Hurricane Ian. That it was cut short by high winds and rain made the bitter pill even harder to swallow.

“I wanted to get these races in, I really did,” said OPA president Ed “Smitty” Smith.

But passion and commitment weren’t enough to change the weather.

The first race of the day was delayed more than an hour and the second had to be re-started when two crewmembers were tossed out in a tricky turn. Then rain started and fog rolled in as the boats in the boats in the Mod-V and Stock-V classes headed out on the course with those in Bracket 300 and 400.

Mostly due to visibility caused by the fog and rain, OPA officials were left with no choice but to call the afternoon’s action. Given the constant delays and that the permit with the United States Coast Guard would likely only keep the course open until 5 p.m., it was going to be a challenge to get all four races on the schedule for the day completed.

World championships are typically multi-race events that determine the winners by combining the points from as many of three days of competition. This left the question of how would the boats that didn’t race today be scored for the overall championship. The Union Internationale Motonautique and American Power Boat Association are the governing bodies, so speedonthewater.com asked Rich Luhrs, APBA Offshore Chairman.

“Yesterday’s results will count and the medals will go to those who qualified,” said Luhrs. “Acts of God supersede everything.”

To qualify for a UIM world championship, a class needed to have a minimum of five entries. The event drew 43 boats in 12 classes and of those, four had the required number of competitors, so UIM world championships will be awarded in those classes. OPA world titles would go to winners in all classes

That means that owner/driver Brit Lilly and throttleman Jay Muller grabbed the top honors in the Stock Vee class in the 30-foot Extreme that Lilly also built, LSB Hurricane of Awesomeness. Second went to throttleman Travis Pastrana and driver Jim York in the 30-foot Extreme, Twisted Vee, while driver Kirk Hanna and driver Mark Rinda finished third in the 30-foot Phantom, North Myrtle Beach RV Resort.

All the other classes that had the minimum number of entries got to compete on Sunday. The action started with the smallest boats in the fleet, Bracket Class 700, taking to the four-mile course. Before the race started, the mother-son team of Candace and John Donnelley pulled into the infield in their boat, Bad Habit. Then after making the start, the Lauer Brothers had to pull off in the 21-foot Battlewagon, Goofin’ Around, because one of them was experiencing severe back pain after taking so many hard shots on Sunday.

The father-son team of Joe Reilly and Joe Reilly Jr., moved to the lead in their 22-foot Progression, Team Progression. The 21-foot Superboat, RedRum, ran a solid second with driver Anthony Cruz and throttleman Robert Barneschi and Derek Dawson and Beau Purtle ran third in Dawson’s newly designed Punisher boat that runs under the same name. The winners from Saturday, James Jaronczyk and Dylan Gold in the 22’ Progression Nauti Boyz, experienced some gremlins at the start and battled for third and fourth with the 21-foot Superboat, Offshore Ohmies crewed by Ben Osypian and Joel Murani.

When the four laps on the four-mile course were complete, the Reillys came home with an impressive win, flying the boat level. RedRum held second and Dawson brought his new boat home in third.

“That was some bumpy stuff,” said Reilly Jr., who drove on Sunday. “We nailed the setup and it felt like a Sunday boat ride.”

While some boats ran ballast tanks, the Riellys and Dawson may have been the only boats in the class with trim tabs and they came in handy to keep the boats at the right attitude. “We did not break out today, that’s for sure,” said Dawson.

In the final tally for the UIM and OPA world championships, the Reillys took the title in Team Progression followed Nauti Boyz and RedRum.

In Sunday’s second race, the boats in Bracket 500 and 600 were competing for a UIM world title. In 500, the 30-foot Superboat, Shoreline Plumbing, had to scratch because it broke a drive coupler on Saturday so that left five boats.

Micheal Stancombe and J.J. Turk took home UIM and OPA titles in the Bracket 600 class.

When the green flag waved, the 30-foot Phantom, Golfin’ Gator Team Woody, with throttleman Mike Stancombe and driver J.J. Turk took an early lead, putting their decades of experience to good use. The one-design Reindl Powerboat, CigarMonster.com, with driver Jimmy Wessel and throttleman Rob Goodwin ran second, enjoying the protection from the rain that the enclosed cockpit provided. The 29-foot Warlock, Bulletproof/Goodboys, with throttleman Elijah Kingery and driver Eric Bullom ran third. Normally, boat owner Craig Belfatto would be on the throttle, but he stepped aside because of concerns for his back and neck in the rough conditions.

Early on the DCB entry in Bracket 500, Vance Hagen and Jeremy Hellens had to pull inside the course in Mean Streak with a mechanical issue after repairing an engine on Saturday night.  

Behind the Bracket 500 boats, the 600 boats were waging their own battle and the 26-foot Scarab, Unsalted No Sharks, with throttleman Fran Vellutato and driver Michael McCoglan jumped out to an early lead. Throttleman Johnny Saris and owner/driver Michael Lang in the 26-foot Sutphen, Moderation rolled. Driver and throttleman were thrown from the boat but they were OK. The boat started to sink and rescue crews got a line on it before it went down.

Balanced impeccably in Saturday’s Bracket 600 contest, Moderation had no such luck in yesterday’s wild conditions.

Eventually when the safety boats got Moderation out of the course, after a lengthy delay, the race restarted. None of the teams had completed a lap, so officials shortened the lap count to three in hopes of getting the race finished so the other boats could get on the course.

In the restart, Golfin’ Gator Team Woody took the lead again with CigarMonster.com running in second but having problems. Bulletproof/Goodcars held third and was moving up. Turk and Stancombe completed the three laps unchallenged and took the second checkered flag of the weekend. Bulletproof/Goodcars passed CigarMonster.com just ahead of the finish line to take second.

When the spray settled, Golfin’ Gator Team Woody grabbed another world championship followed by Bulletproof/Goodcar.com and CigarMonster.com.

The story was similar in Bracket 600 as Unsalted No Shark lived up to its championship pedigree, taking the checkered flag. Peter and Rich Smith finished second in their 26-foot Joker, Smith Brothers CRC and one of the most popular boats in the fleet, the bright green Carrera, Money Monster, with driver Tim Vandenberg, throttleman Jeff Kipfmueller and navigator Cliff Shaw finished third.

In the championship tally, Unsalted No Shark captured the title followed by CRC Smith Brothers and Money Monster.

For the boats that didn’t get a chance to get on the course on Sunday, the 38-foot Fountain, Knucklehead Racing, with owner Ed Smith, took the world title, as did the 42-foot MTI, JBS Racing. They both ran unopposed on Saturday. In Super Cat, the 38-foot Skater, Justice League, also ran solo to a world title.

In 450R Factory Stock, throttleman John Tomlinson and driver Taylor Scism in the 39-foot MTI, TS Motorsports, captured the OPA world championship. Second went to Gary Ballough and Willy Cabeza in an MTI sistership, GC Racing, while the 38-foot Doug Wright, Gladiator, took third.

In Super Stock, Peter and AJ Bogino took their 32-foot Doug Wright, Coco’s Monkey, to the team’s first win and OPA world title followed by Steven Bridges and David Selley in the 32-foot Doug Wright, Team Bermuda.

Mod Vee had two entries so owner/throttleman Steve Miklos and driver Steve Fehrman in the 30-foot Extreme, Sunprint, earned an OPA championship while the 30-foot Phantom, Relentless, with throttleman Charlie McCarthy and driver Travis Pettko finished second.

The Predator team claimed the OPA world championship in the Bracket 400 class.

In Bracket 400, the 34-foot Phantom, Cape Haze Marine finished third in the OPA championship standings while Jason and Johnny Saris and navigator Verne French took second in their 33-foot Cobra, Saris Racing. The 2022 OPA World champion in Bracket 400 was the 41-foot Apache, Predator, with driver Dean Stahlman, throttleman Nate Hunt and navigator Ryan Stahlman.

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