Raising the Flag

Offshore Powerboat Association racers claim their national championships in Florida

Photos Jeff Gerardi/Freeze Frame

It’s rare in offshore racing that two teams can spend the entire summer  battling it out to have it come down to the last race of the regular season. There are too many variables that play out such as mechanical gremlins and penalties that can come over the course of the season.

Coming into Offshore Powerboat Association’s National Championship in Fort Myers, Florida, the top Super Stock teams were intensely close. Just four points separated the leader Performance Boat Center from the pack, so the team knew it had to win or CMR Roofing and Construction couldn’t finish the race, which wasn’t going to happen.

When the flag dropped on the rainy race in early October, CMR Roofing and Construction’s Shaun Torrente and Eric Belisle left little doubt they were going for broke in the Doug Wright boat on the eight turn, 7 1/2-mile course. The team  grabbed the early lead and even a restart late in the race wouldn’t keep the duo from collecting the Super Stock national championship.

“What a race, what a season for the team,’ said Torrente a few days after the national championship. “If you had told me it would be this close at the beginning of the season, I would have never believed you.”

Super Stock class was one of several deep classes this year in Offshore Powerboat Association after an abbreviated 2020 season because of pandemic restrictions. The OPA started the season off in Cocoa, Florida in May and ran eight more races prior to the national championships.

While the Super Stock and Super Cat traditionally captures much of the attention, some of the best racing on the weekend took place in the Stock Vee and Modified V classes. Thirteen teams started a race this season in Stock Vee but only Relentless was at every event. Going into Fort Meyers the duo of Travis Petko and Steve Papp had to finish among the leaders to win the national crown.

Relentless, which finished fifth and won the national title, watched as You Gun Learn, Wazzup and Nobody’s Business diced it up at the national championship with Date Napoli and Mike Bocchino in You Gun Learn prevailing.

In seven-boat Modified Vee, the rookie team of Ian Morgan and Nick Imprescia behind Visit St. Pete/Clearwater won its second race of the season in Michigan, continually improving as the year went on. 

Boatfloater.com was the model of consistency this season and it’s why the father-and-son team of Steve and Stephen Kildahl is the 2021 national champion in the Mod V. The team finished second in Fort Myers with Sunprint placing third.

The once-dominant Super Cat class, which has shrunk as consumer moved to outboards, had three boats and voted to allow a Fountain V-bottom Knucklehead Racing to join them in Fort Myers. M-Con won the race and the national championship.

Other national champions crowned in the bracket classes include: Team Woody (Class 2, Class 3), Old School (Class 4), Shoreline Plumbing (Class 5), Rum Runner (Class 6), Goofin Around (Class 7). The ClassONE national champion is SV Offshore.

The Englewood Beach Waterfest World Championships are set for November 18-21 where OPA will wrap up its 2021 season.   

E1 Series Unveils Prototype Powerboat

The E1 Series, the world’s first electric powerboating championship, unveiled a full-size model of the electric RaceBird powerboat that will race in the series backed by the marine industry’s major players.

Only one year on from the series launch, the unveiling of the full-scale model marks a major milestone for the championship as the E1 Series moves closer to putting the RaceBird on the water and the start of prototype testing early next year.

E1 Series co-founders Alejandro Agag and Rodi Basso were joined by the boat’s designer Sophi Horne (Founder of SeaBird Technologies), Brunello Acampora (Founder and CEO of Victory Marine), and UIM President Raffaele Chiulli to remove the covers from the prototype at a press conference in September.

In the coming months the RaceBird engineers will focus on the integration of the battery and controls systems and how they work together with the powertrain. After which the engineers will incorporate the propulsion architecture to the platform ready to hit the water.

As well as providing an update on the technical road map for the RaceBird powerboat, it was also confirmed during today’s event that Monaco will host a race in the inaugural season of the E1 Series, which is scheduled to start in early 2023.

The series consists of 10 races around the world and features up to 12 teams. The RaceBird powerboat will use hydrofoil technology with top speeds capable of 55 mph. Each electric boat will have a 150 kW peak power output.

“Mercury Racing is excited to take part in this challenge, and looks forward to joining the E1 Series, SeaBird Technologies, and Victory Marine in the development of high-performance electric powertrain components,” said Stuart Halley, general manager of Mercury Racing in a statement. “Sustainable technology is already playing an important role in the future of marine motorsports, and we could not be prouder of our partnership with these organizations and the products that will come as a result of our combined efforts.”

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