OCEAN CITY — The grand spectacle of offshore powerboat racing will return to Ocean City in early May after resort officials approved the event last week.
On Jan. 4, the Mayor and Council approved the proposed Ocean City Grand Prix scheduled for the weekend of April 30 to May 2 as part of its consent agenda. The Ocean City Grand Prix is part of the larger Offshore Powerboat Association (OPA) summer-long series of events all over the country.
In years past, the Ocean City offshore powerboat races have been held in September near the end of the OPA series. This year, the Ocean City Grand Prix will kick off the OPA’s series of 11 events all over the country. Locally, the event is produced by the Bull on the Beach, which typically has powerboats competing and has produced offshore powerboat racing in Ocean City off and on for years.
The grand prix in May is actually a three-day event with a festival of sorts including meet-and-greets with the professional race teams, powerboat tours, parties and other activities beginning that Friday, April 30 and continuing through the weekend. The real action gets underway on Sunday, May 2, with two scheduled races in the open ocean just off the resort coast.
The course is laid out between North Division Street and 12th Street with a start-finish line between 2nd and 3rd Street. The first race begins at noon and the second race is scheduled to go off at 3 p.m. Each race will have between 15-20 powerboats competing in a wide variety of classes.
For safety reasons, during the actual races only, no swimming will be permitted in the area. The viewing public will be allowed on the beach within the race footprint, but will be kept out of the water. Mayor Rick Meehan pointed out the Ocean City Beach Patrol typically handles the responsibility of keeping swimmers out of the ocean during the races, but Special Events Coordinator Lisa Mitchell said that issue has been addressed.
“The Beach Patrol is willing to do whatever they can because they want to be in total support of an event like this as they have in the past,” she said. “However, the Beach Patrol will not yet be on duty at this time, so closing the beach will be difficult to manage within their department.”
As this event is taking place prior to the OCBP seasonal duty, OPA event organizers will employ staff to patrol the beach and keep swimmers out of the ocean during each race. In addition, the OPA will place signage at each beach entrance within the race footprint.