Saturday, September 18, 2010

Lightning On The Water Expected to Electrify Atlantic City & The Jersey Shore

The Offshore Powerboat Association hosts "Lightning on the Water" on Sunday Sept. 19 in Atlantic City, a Grand Prix event that's shaping up to be a critical junction in the current OPA racing season. This is the first year powerboats have raced in Atlantic City since 2004, after competing in Point Pleasant for the last several years. Racing takes place in six bracketed divisions, and the winner of the premier division (Extreme Turbine – Unlimited) will be vying for a $50,000 grand prize.

PHOTO CREDIT: Press of Atlantic City

"We have no intention of going away," said OPA president Ed Smith, 53, who races a 38-footer sponsored by Wazzup Motorsports. "We are going to do this for many years in the future. I am looking at least another five years."

This year's races begin Sunday at noon, right in front of Atlantic City Hilton Casino Resort to the Showboat Casino Hotel, with the start/finish line in front of the Steer Pier. The races will air on the Versus television channel later in the year, and the high level of interest in the race may point to a revitalization of offshore powerboat racing on the Jersey Shore. About 45 boats are expected for this weekend's races, an increase over the 30 boats that competed at Point Pleasant last year. This year's event attracted a number of drivers due to the upgraded facilities, convenient dockage and extra entertainment value that Atlantic City has to offer.

This winter's television exposure is also expected to aid the growth of the sport, which is getting a major boost in support from Geico. The 2010 race schedule will appear on the cable sports channel starting in late Fall and will run through the end of the year. Geico has also teamed up with Trump Entertainment Resorts to give the Atlantic City race an extra-high profile, providing additional promotion and providing top-level accommodations for the racers.

PHOTO CREDIT: Seabreeze.com.au.

In addition, the 2010 race has a special international flair, as well known competitors like Spirit of Qatar driver Sheikh Hassan are showing up to hit the waves at Atlantic City. The Sheikh admits that the race venues on the eastern coast of the U.S. offers a distinct new challenge to his team. “In fact, the whole east coast is new to us,” he adds. “We know the races take place on open seas, and we hope we can have an advantage with that if we experience rougher conditions.”

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