(Sept. 27, 2019) The Offshore Powerboat Association National Championship Offshore Power Boat Races return to Ocean City this weekend.
The official races will take place Sunday, Sept. 29. There will be two races, the first beginning at noon and the second starting around 1:30 p.m.
The boat races are divided into classes. Smaller boats are rated between Classes 5-7. Larger boats are classified between Classes 1-4. Racers will compete against other boats in their classes.
There will also be a super boat class, which Miss GEICO is a part of. The GEICO-sponsored boat broke a world record in 2008 for holding four world championships simultaneously.
It held the championship titles for Super Boat International World Champions, the Pacific Offshore Powerboat Racing Association World Champions, the Offshore Performance Association World Champions and the Offshore Super Series World Champions.
“It’s exciting. You don’t get too many chances to watch offshore powerboat racing in the ocean,” said Phil Houck, sponsor of the event and owner of Bull on the Beach and Crab Alley restaurants. “The best place to watch the race, believe it or not, is on the start-finish boat, which is called the Sea Rocket. They’re [currently] selling tickets $30 apiece.”
Houck has hosted the powerboat races in Ocean City for several years. Houck traveled to Key West Florida back in early 1992 and watched a couple races there. When he returned home, he decided to hold races here in Ocean City in 1992.
“It’s one of the best races [you’ll] ever see,” Houck said.
The event was canceled in 2015, 2016 and 2017 because of poor weather conditions in September, though the races have been held in previous years. Last year, the event was moved to June in hopes for better weather conditions. Thirty-five boats competed in 2018.
Houck wanted to move the event back to September this year.
“The weather turned out great except at the end of the race, it started getting a little misty,” Houck said. “We actually called the race about three quarters of the way through.”
The race course is from First Street to 18th Street. The boats will go counter clockwise, and different classes of boats will run different laps. The smaller boats, 5-7, will run around 10 laps. The bigger boats will run anywhere from 12-14 laps.
The start and finish line will be in the ocean on Third Street, which is right in front of the Bull on the Beach Boardwalk restaurant.
The event is free to watch. Houck’s restaurant, Bull on the Beach on 94th Street, will broadcast the event on its TVs.
Viewers can see the races from the Boardwalk, beach, or online. Visit bullonthebeachoc.com and watch the race online by selecting Live Racing.
Registration is open today, Sept. 27. Boats will be docked at the West Ocean City harbor. Registered racers must be members of the Offshore Powerboat Association.
Houck estimates anywhere between 40-45 boats competing in the races this year.
“I’d like to thank the Town of Ocean City, Worcester County, and the Coast Guard for working with me to put this race together,” Houck said.
There will be a meet-and-greet welcome racer party at Crab Alley in West Ocean City beginning at 7 p.m. tonight, Friday.
To register for the event or for more information, go to www.oparacing.org.