Offshore Powerboat Association (OPA) competitors traveled to Morehead City, NC, for the Crystal Coast Grand Prix this weekend. It was the group’s sixth race of the season, with the action split into two separate days, Friday and Sunday.
Boats in nine classes gathered, with no competitors in the larger categories (ClassONE, Super Cat, Super Stock) represented, and three classes (Unlimited, Vee Extreme and Bracket Class 3) featuring boats running unopposed. Points for Friday had already been awarded for the winners at the time of this writing, but had not yet been determined for Sunday’s race. This story will be updated with official winners and standings following Sunday night’s awards banquet.
In Modified Vee, Boatfloater. com (featuring the father/son team of Steve and Stephen Kildahl) captured first place on Friday, with XInsurance and Marker 17 Marine following behind. (The race ended abruptly when the fourth competitor, 151 Express, flipped upside down and had to be towed off the course; no injuries were reported.) Sunday’s rematch with the three remaining boats saw Brian Forehand and Blake Hurston in their Marker 17 Marine Outerlimits roaring ahead of the pack to take first place. Boatfloater. com took second, with Will Smith and Mark Fernandez of XInsurance in third place after a neck-and-neck battle with the Kildahls.
Stock Vee’s Friday fight saw Ed Smith and son Anthony Smith in Wazzup take the lead, with Fastboys and Shocker finishing second and third. The fourth- and fifth-place finishers, Laticrete and North Myrtle Beach RV Resort, were a scratch for Sunday’s race, which pit all three teams from Friday’s podium in competition. The Sunday bout was marked by two hair-raising spinouts: Shocker (with Chris Colson and Raymond Evans) took the early lead, but was then overtaken by Fastboys. When Shocker spun out, it then took the third-place position. Fastboys (with Ken Bolinger and Forrest Riddle) eventually gained about a quarter-mile lead—then it, too, spun out at the west end of the course, just after the halfway point of the race. However, the team quickly recovered from its temporary setback, deftly maintaining its lead and holding onto it. Wazzup finished in second place.
Bracket Class racing dominated the action in Morehead City, at least in boat count. Here’s a recap of the bracket-class activity:
Class 4—Friday’s race saw Predator (with Dean Stahlman, Nate Hunt and Wayne Courson) finishing first ahead of Full Send, Control Freak and The Cleaner. Two of those boats (Full Send and The Cleaner) were a scratch for Sunday’s race, and Control Freak (with Mark Robbins and Damon Marotta) led Predator for the duration of the race. Predator actually appeared to lose momentum toward the end, leaving some to wonder if it might have been running on only one engine.
Class 5—Three boats competed for their place on the podium. On Friday, Mean Streak (with Jeremy Hellems and Vance Hagen) took the first-place position, with Bulletproof and Team Woody rounding out the silver and bronze. On Sunday, however, everything flip-flopped. Team Woody (with JJ Turk and Nick Smith) took a commanding lead, as Bulletproof (with Elijah Kingery and Craig Belfatto) maintained the #2 spot; Mean Streak came in third.
Class 6—The star of this show was Rum Runners / Unsalted No Sharks (with Fran Vellutato and Mike McColgan), which finished in first place on both Friday and Sunday. On the second day of racing, Smith Brothers (with Pete Smith and Rich Smith) led the pack, but was overtaken by Rum Runners toward the end of the race, giving Smith Brothers another second-place finish. Wicked (with Jason and Jay Muller) finished in third place on Friday; MDG Offshore took that position on Sunday.
Class 7—Goofin’ Around (with Matt Lauer and Joe Lauer) took the checkered flag on Friday, with Nauti Boyz and Mini Gini taking second and third on the podium. Team Progression (fourth on Friday) finished in first place on Sunday, followed by Nauti and Goofin’ Around.
The three boats running unopposed were:
• Jack’s Waterfront (with Jeffrey McCann and Chris Bowers) in Unlimited Class.
• Knucklehead Racing (with Ed Smith and Anthony Smith) in Vee Extreme Class.
• Mr. Herbotto (with Keith Herbott and son Cade Herbott) in Class 3.