Competing in Class 6 in their 24-foot Joker V-bottom powered by a 600-hp engine, Rich and Pete Smith of the Smith Brothers offshore racing team are the epitome of Offshore Powerboat Association racers. First, as their surname suggests, they’re brothers—and OPA is loaded with family teams. Second, they’re passionate about the sport. Third and most important, their spirits are indomitable. Quitting isn’t part of their vocabulary.
Still, no one would have blamed Rich or Pete Smith had they sat out of the rest the 2017 season after their accident—in the truest sense of the word—with Repeat Offender during the OPA contest in Point Pleasant Beach, N.J. The late-May accident claimed the life of racer David Raabe and sent the Smith Brothers raceboat to the ocean floor, some 35 feet below the water’s surface for nine days. Between the emotional toll on the teammates and the condition of their 26-footer, the future of the Smith Brothers team racing 2017 season was very much in question.