OCEAN CITY –The Geico Offshore Powerboat Races will be returning to the shores of Ocean City once again this summer, bringing with it big crowds, fast boats, and an exciting weekend of racing.
Ed Smith of OPA Racing, LLC, received unanimous approval from the Mayor and City Council for a special event permit this week, securing the weekend of May 30 for the high-paced boat races this year.
The date for the races has been moved up this year, in an effort to hold the boat-racing event on a softer weekend. “Last year was a little hectic with all that was going on,” said Smith, explaining to the council the desire to hold the race on a less crowded weekend.
The event will move into town on Friday, May 29 as the powerboats set up shop in the West Ocean City. The event kicks off on Saturday, May 30, when the boats will be on display at Sunset Marina. For no charge, spectators will get the chance to view wet and dry pits. Crews will also be on hand, giving spectators a chance to speak with the men behind the scenes.
Sunday will be the official race day with two races, the first one at 12:30 p.m. and the second at 2 p.m., right off the shores of the resort beaches. The racecourse extends from 4th Street to 42nd Street, close enough for beachgoers to view, but far enough for the safety of swimmers. Spectators can watch from just about anywhere along that stretch of beach, but Geico, along with the public address system, will be anchored at the Commander Hotel on 14th Street, where most of the on land action will occur.
The Ocean City races are the first leg of the 2008 Miss Geico Triple Crown. The Triple Crown totals scores from three racing events held at Ocean City; Patchogue, New York; and Point Pleasant New Jersey, ending with a final Miss Geico Triple Crown winner, who will receive a grand prize and trophy.
The Ocean City race will also crown its winners at an awards ceremony held Sunday night at Sunset Grille.
Smith assured that council that no boats would be beaching themselves along the shores this year, as was the case last year when one of the powerboats drifted ashore.
“Wicked,” a New Jersey boat, faced problems when the right hull of the boat broke away during the race, leaving a hole in the side of the boat. The broken catamaran was left with no choice but to turn off its engines and drift ashore, where it parked for the remainder of the day until crews arrived to remove the boat from the beach with the proper equipment. Further problems arose however when the first crane to arrive became immobile, requiring a bigger crane to be brought in to remove not only the boat, but also the first crane. Nonetheless, the boat was removed by that evening with no damage to the beaches.
While no one was injured in the boat or along the beach, OPA is making sure no boats will have to come to shore this year.
“The beach is off limits to all the teams,” said Smith, explaining that a rescue boat, prepared for such situations, will be on hand in case of boat failures or malfunctions, eliminating the need for boats to drift to shore.
“The last thing we want to do is compromise our relationship with Ocean City,” said Smith.
Smith dedicated this year’s race to Tres Lynch, a local resident and member of the Commander Hotel’s Lynch family who passed away this past week.