Air-sea duel OC Air Show

The Miss Geico powerboat will be pitted against a World War II-era trainer plane in a race over the water during the OC Air Show on Aug. 15-16.

What’s faster — a World War II-era, open-cockpit SNJ trainer plane at full throttle or an 11-time world champion offshore racing catamaran? Crowds at the Ocean City Air Show will have the opportunity to find out on Aug.15-16, when one of the Geico Skytyper planes will challenge the 47-foot Miss Geico powerboat in a pair of races along the shoreline in Ocean City, Md.

Immediately following the Skytypers’ airshow demonstration, one of the solo pilots will swoop down to a low-altitude just above the deck of its water-bound counterpart, the Miss Geico, and the air-versus-sea duel will begin. The airplane and boat will race in both directions, to ensure that currents and wind conditions don’t dictate the ultimate winner, making the race a battle of skill and expertise.

“Each race is utterly unpredictable,” said Miss Geico Crew Chief Gary Stray. “The liquid track has constantly changing conditions, such as wave size and wind strength, which greatly affect our speed and handling capability. With a World War II airplane screaming down out of the sky and racing so close, it feels like it could land on the deck of the boat.”

The 80-year-old aircraft is powered by a 550-horsepower Pratt & Whitney engine. Miss Geico’s piston-powered turbo engines produce 2,200 total horsepower. Technically, the SNJ is rated at a top speed of 213 mph at an altitude of 6,000 feet. Under ideal water conditions, the Miss Geico race boat has reached a top speed of 210 mph during a record-setting speed run.

Tom Daly, Geico Skytyper lead solo pilot, said experience and skill are the real differentiators. “The boat will be tough to beat, because it has more power and is completely state-of-the-art. But we rely on expert management of geometry and physics to extract the maximum output possible out of these vintage airplanes.”

“The Ocean City Air Show gives the public a rare chance to witness this air-sea duel. The race is something we only do a couple of times each year,” said Miss Geico throttleman Steve Curtis. “This particular race will be especially exciting, as Maryland natives Travis Pastrana and Brit Lilly will join me in the driver’s seat on alternating days to participate in the races.”

Annapolis, Md., native Pastrana is known as an action-sports legend, with numerous gold medal wins in X Games competitions, along with championship wins in supercross, motocross, freestyle motocross and rally racing. On Saturday during the 2020 OC Air Show, he will drive the Miss Geico catamaran in competition for the first time. As an expert in off-road motorcycle racing, Travis’ ability to adjust to changes in the terrain will translate perfectly as the driver for the Miss Geico Offshore Racing Team, representatives said.

On Sunday, fellow Annapolis native Brit Lilly will occupy the driver’s seat next to Curtis. Lilly is an American Powerboat Association (APBA) Hall of Champions Inductee, world champion powerboat racer and owner of Lilly Sport Boats.

For more information about additional performers at the Ocean City Air Show, visit