Last night’s Offshore Powerboat Association Awards Banquet for the 2017 season proved to be a celebration of all that is wonderful about OPA—the competition, the camaraderie and the lifelong bond of what is for all intents and purposes an extended offshore racing family. Held at Martell's Lobster House in Point Pleasant N.J., the event attracted almost every OPA racer from the 2017 season including Florida-based competitors Scott Begovich and Will Smith.

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With its 2017 Awards Banquet in the books, the OPA is heading into the 2018 season loaded with enthusiasm and momentum. Photos courtesy/copyright Marie Smith and Christina Lauer.

Also making the rounds last night was Point Pleasant Mayor Stephen Reid. Mayor Reid is a huge supporter of OPA and keeping the Point Pleasant Grand Prix a staple on the offshore circuit. Four bars, live entertainment and a massive buffet kept everyone busy until it was time to crown the National Champions for each class, the overall High Points Champion and the Jimmy Welsh award.

Louis Giancontieri and Strictly Business Racing took home the Stugots Cup award for their High Points Championship. Their crewmember, Mark Miskuff, also took the coveted Jimmy Welsh award, which recognizes a crew person who shows outstanding sportsmanship in the pits but cannot be a riding member.

Possibly the most impressive accolade of the night went to Joesph Lauer, throttleman of Goofin' Around, a Class 7 entry. At just 16 years old, Lauer throttled his boat to a National Championship in a seriously competitive class. I can't promise he's the youngest National Champion in offshore history, but I can promise he's one of them.

For more images from the 2017 OPA Awards Banquet, check out the slideshow above.

The Lauer family also campaigns a Class 5 boat All Fired Up with Joey's father Rob and older brother, Matt, onboard. Driving for Joey this year was Nick Altmyer. For the few races he couldn’t make, I stepped into the cockpit.

The 2018 season is coming up quickly. This celebration of all that is good in OPA left everyone fired up for the great times to come.

OPA 2017 National Champions
Super Stock—Shadow Pirate
Extreme—Miss GEICO
Class 1—Lightening Jacks
Class 2—Bat Boat
Class 3—Strictly Business
Class 4—Saris Racing
Class 5—Specialized Racing
Class 6—You Gun Learn
Class 7—Goofin' Around
Super Vee Light—Typhoon

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