OCEAN CITY- The grand spectacle of offshore powerboat racing is set to return on Mother’s Day weekend, May 11-13, with the arrival of the OPA racing teams from the U.S. and other countries.
For years, the annual offshore powerboat races were a staple in the resort. Last fall, however, a local fan favorite, Phil Houck, returned with the National Racing Series. Sponsored in part by Bull On The Beach, Crab Alley, Atlantic Hotel, Quality Inn Boardwalk, Harrison Hall, Flagship Ocean Front, Worcester County, The Dispatch, The U.S. Coast Guard, the town of Ocean City and the “Judith M.”
Offshore racing is not just a visual experience. Beach-goers will be able to hear the roar of the engines as boats pass, engines whining as they leap skyward, and crash through the waves and the wakes left by the competition. As the vessels soar by at speeds of up to 160 mph, the vibrant, rocket shaped boats become a flash of color and sound.
Offshore racing is likened to the Indy 500, but this is the ocean and competitors take what Mother Nature provides with unpredictable waves and water conditions. Powerboat racing is a dangerous sport and safety precautions will include oxygen-equipped boats with medevac helicopters following the boats closely during the entire race.
The Ocean City race is the first in the summer-long series for the 2012 season and will be nationally televised, attracting race teams from across the country. Teams will compete for price money, trophies and points, which will count toward being name National Champion race team for the 2012 season. Bull on the Beach, which was the National Champion for 2011 and World Champion in 2010, will also be competing this year.
The event begins Friday, May 11 starting at noon at the West Ocean City Boat ramp and public parking lot, which be the race village, on Sunset Avenue across from Crab Alley restaurant. Later on Friday at 7 p.m., a welcoming party for racers and their teams will be held at Wild Bills on Baltimore Avenue and all fans are welcome.
On Saturday, May 12, the boats will be on display again at Race Village from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and fans will be able to mingle, take pictures and get autographs from all the race teams. Later on Saturday at 7 p.m., a welcome party for racers and their teams will be held at the beautiful Crab Alley restaurant, which will serve as race headquarters, for the entire weekend and all fans are welcome.
Finally, Sunday May 13 is Race Day and the boats on display all weekend will line up in the West Ocean City Harbor and proceed to the race course, which runs from 4th street to 34th street. All the race boats will depart in single file to the milling area in the ocean around 40th street. The first race begins around noon with the boats racing in a modified rectangle from 4th Street to 34th Street for 7-12 laps. The start/finish line is at the beautiful host hotel, the Quality Inn on 17th St. The second race is set to begin approximately 2 p.m. to follow the same format.
The best seats for the race will be on the “Judith M,” which will be the official start/finish boat directly in the middle of the race course where race officials and the media will be onboard (see our ad in this Dispatch for available seating on the “Judith M”.) The event closes on Sunday May 13 with a 7 p.m. awards party at Crab Alley Restaurant and all fans are welcome.