In an email sent today to American Power Boat Association members in the organization’s offshore racing category, APBA president Howie Nichols confirmed that the organization will sanction the upcoming Race World Offshore events in Clearwater and Key West, Fla. Race World Offshore is one of three divisional “clubs”—the Offshore Powerboat Association and Powerboat P1 are the other two—in APBA’s offshore category.
Race World Offshore will run its next two contests under the American Power Boat Association sanctioning umbrella. Photo from the 2018 RWO Mentor Grand Prix on Lake Erie in Ohio courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
Despite that RWO is an APBA club in good standing, the Key West-based organization had announced earlier this year that its Dunkirk, N.Y., and Florida contests would not be run under an APBA sanction. However, RWO officials continued to seek APBA sanction approval for its Clearwater and Key West events, which though approved per today’s email are still listed on the APBA website as “pending” and “tentative.”
The matter eventually went to the APBA board of directors who decided that, based on the organization’s own sanctioning rules, approval for the RWO Florida contests was the correct course of action.
“I wanted to (be sanctioned by APBA) all along but was blocked by OPA,” said Larry Bleil, the head of Race World Offshore. “After meeting with Howie I felt going with APBA was good for the sport—all racers can race with any approved organization and accrue points toward an APBA National Championship. In offshore we need all rules to be the same—and points that mean something.”
Per its contract with the APBA, the Offshore Powerboat Association has the sanctioning rights to all APBA offshore races in the Northeast. The Offshore Powerboat Association could have given Race World Offshore permission to use its APBA sanctioning rights in Dunkirk but opted not to as it is working with Powerboat P1 this year to produce the inaugural six-race circuit called American Power Boat Offshore Championship Series.
The OPA does not, however, hold the APBA sanction rights for Florida and other areas in the Southeast.
“Due to the contract being in place this was the only reason that RWO was denied an APBA sanction for the Dunkirk event,” Nichols wrote in the email. “Abiding by the same exact contract, RWO was granted a sanction for Clearwater, Fla., and will be granted a sanction for the Key West event should they choose to do so with APBA.”
Bleil confirmed RWO’s intent to run its Key West event under an APBA sanction.
Based on points accrued at APBA-sanctioned events, the organization maintains its own National High Points Championship system. That means teams competing in established APBA classes at races hosted by APBA member-clubs can earn points toward the APBA’s own national title in RWO races as well as the OPA/P1-produced series.
The reaction from the offshore racing community, particularly from racers who have committed to the six-race APBA series produced by the OPA and Powerboat P1, has been strong.
“This decision from APBA is a joke and undermines all of this year’s OPA and P1 success,” said one offshore racing veteran, who asked that his name be withheld. “No one in offshore has paid attention to the APBA’s own National High Points Championship for years—especially for all of us who raced with Super Boat International until this season.”
Reportedly furious at the APBA decision, OPA president Ed “Smitty” Smith could not be reached for comment when this story went live.