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Powerboat World Championships in OC this weekend

(Oct. 4, 2013) Ocean City will be the last stop of eight in the 2013 Offshore Powerboat Association’s World Championships this Sunday.

Visitors will have several chances to meet the racers and see the boats throughout the weekend, starting today, Friday, leading up to Sunday’s high-speed races off the city’s coast.

The event is expected to draw between 30 and 35 powerboats, competing in seven classes, OPA President Edward Smith said.

“It’s an ocean race, so the aerial acrobatics is usually what people like,” he said. “Even if it’s flat, there’s still enough there to send the boats flying.”

The race draws between 15,000 and 20,000 people each year, who watch the races from any spot along the Boardwalk and beach, he said. The course itself runs a two-mile stretch from Third to 40th streets, where the boats will race in two or three heats around a loop.

The winner of the World Championships will take home a prize, not yet determined by press time, but usually worth around $50,000, Smith said.

Other weekend events include two meet-the-racer parties, today and Saturday, both at 7 p.m. On Friday, the public is invited to take photos and get autographs from the teams at Crab Alley in West Ocean City. The Saturday party will be at the West Ocean City public boat ramp, near the restaurant, where visitors can check out the boats before the race.

All day today, boats will arrive at the staging area at the West Ocean City harbor. Cranes will lift them into the water, providing “a very cool event to watch,” Smith said. On Saturday, testing on the boats throughout the day gives spectators another chance to see them in action.

The Ocean City World Championship race dates back more than a decade, but faced a seven- or eight-year hiatus before returning to the city five years ago, when Smith was named president of the OPA, he said. He approached Phil Houck of Bull on the Beach, a former promoter of the event, and together they brought the race back to Ocean City.

Sunday’s races will start at noon and 2 p.m. and, if weather warrants a third heat at 3:30 p.m. There will be an awards ceremony Sunday at 7 p.m. at Crab Alley.

Visitors can watch the races from anywhere on the Boardwalk and beach, Smith said.

For more information on the Ocean City Offshore Powerboat Association’s World Championships, visit www.oparacing.org.

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