The Lake Forest Yacht Club on Jefferson’s north shore of Lake Hopatcong was the site of the determining race in the Offshore Powerboat Association’s national championship Sunday, September 24th. This is the fifth-year organizer Jay Muller and his co-organizer, Chris Hayden, could attract the series inland to the lake. With the previous week’s race canceled in Maryland due to the weather, Lake Hopatcong became the focus of those competing in the series for a cinching championship run.
The top dog on the national stage was the “Miss Geico” in all her green wonder. A win here in Jefferson sealed her season championship and set her up for a world title in a race scheduled for two weeks off Key West. She did not disappoint, but her chief rival “Lighting Jack’s” suffered a mechanic failure just before the last heat of the day according to Muller. He said it was the only competitor that could keep up with the twin
engine 2,400 horse powered “Miss Geico”, equivalent to about ten average cars. The race would have been close Muller explained with the well-funded “Miss Geico” inching ahead with each lap. So baring failure of its own, before the last heat the 14-member Geico crew knew they had the coveted title in the bag and were looking for a good showing for the large assembled crowd on the Lake Forest beach and in boats lining the course.
It was a full day with 11 classes of boats competing. Speeds increased with the size of the boats normally navigating ocean waters and followed at times by a spotting helicopter. But not here on the confines of the lake. No high-level spotters to aid the crew. These were authentic cutting-edge speedboats. Slicing through the water of the lake, spewing a rooster tail of water spray behind them, seeming to pivot with only their props maintaining contact with the water as their hulls are tempted airborne. It is the skill of the pilot and throttle-man, working together that keeps these high-powered boats on course and safely connected to the water.
All of that power, noise, precision, and speed held the audience of locals and visitors in heightened attention as the competitors blasted past chasing their own dreams of accomplishment. The “Miss Geico” came with her two trailers with glossy advertising siding, but gaining the championship on Jefferson’s own Lake Hopatcong may have given them the luck they needed to bring it home and maybe return for a repeat next year. The lake and its challenging course awaits.
Click or tap photos to enlarge or read captions.