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Red Flag Sunday: OPA World Finals End After 3 Boat Flips

The second and final day of racing at the OPA World Championships in Morehead City, NC, started late due to poor weather—and things got gloomier from there.

Early competition was marred by wind, rain, tide and chop, but by the afternoon, the rain and stopped and the sun was out. However, during the final race of the day, two “red flag” situations stopped the competition dead in its tracks due to two separate boat flips. Both occurred during the Super Stock class race, which was led by STR, with Shaun Torrente and teammate and teammate Eric Belisle. About halfway through the nine-lap race, competitor LPC flipped, landing upside down. Driver Loren Peters and throttleman Mike Wright emerged unscathed, but all activity came to a standstill for nearly an hour while the boat was towed off the course and preparations were made for a restart. Shortly after the race got underway again, was Phase 5’s turn to flip upside down. Pilots Al Penta and Jay Muller were uninjured, but the accident effectively called a halt to the race and the event. At press time, it was unclear which Super Stock competitor would accumulate the necessary points to earn a World Championship in the class, but Jackhammer (which had finished first on Friday) appeared to be a strong contender. 

The event was historic because it marked Nitro Circus superstar Travis Pastrana’s first official race driving with throttleman Steve Curtis in ClassONE’s Miss GEICO. Although the pair ran unopposed—their one competitor having been scratched for the day—the boat ran beautifully, inspiring excitement for next season’s action. As on Friday, Knucklehead Racing ran unopposed in Vee Extreme class.

Sunday kicked off with nine Class 7 boats making five laps on the 4.5-mile course for a total of 22.5 miles, including Evil Ways, which had won Friday’s race. Sunday’s bout featured a lively battle for first place, with Nauti Boyz and Jackhammer trading off on the lead for a few laps before second-place Jackhammer seemed to barrel roll, landing right side up. Neither of the pilots were injured; after a red flag was called, OPA decided to end the Class 7 race, with Nauti Boyz in the lead and Team Progression in third.

After Class 7’s race, two classes ran together: four Modified Vee and seven Class 5 entries. In Modified Vee class, Marker 7 Marine, which had spun out on Friday, started Sunday’s 10-lap race very strongly, leading for most of the race before abruptly dropping out about three-quarters of the way through. That left Friday’s winner, Sun Print, to take the lead, followed by 151 Express (which itself spun out on Sunday but quickly got back on plane). Defiance also came off plane and was seen under tow. That left Sun Print poised to take the unofficial world championship in Modified Vee.

In Class 5 racing, Agora Day Spa finished the eight-lap race in first place after a strong lead; they were followed by Team Woody, Bronx Phantom and Hungry Howie’s. These four had finished sixth, eighth, seventh and second on Friday, respectively; at press time, it was unclear which boat would take the world championship in the class on points.

Class 6 racing gave Rum Runner/Nu Wave Marine a chance to repeat the team’s Friday victory, giving them the World Championship in the class after the seven-lap race. They were followed by Moderation, Money Monster, Deception and Wicked. Class 4’s 10-lap haul saw Snow Blower—which had an eighth-place finish on Friday—take and hold on to the lead. But it was second-place finisher Old School that would take the World Championship on points, following their third-place finish on Friday. Typhoon finished third; Tsunami did not race, and Team Woody dropped out after a steering issue.

In Class 3, all Team Woody had to do was burn fuel and enjoy a leisurely ride after both of its competitors (Strictly Business and Reindl Powerboats) were out for the count. Team Woody took the championship in the class. 

Finally, in Pro Stock Vee, Done Deal managed to repeat its first-place win on Friday, taking the world championship. LSB Racing and N. Myrtle Beach finished second and third, respectively.

Official World Championship results will follow.

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