In a proactive response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the American Power Boat Association Offshore National Championship Series organizers have made several significant schedule changes. The news announced this morning in a joint press release from the Offshore Powerboat Association and Powerboat P1, the groups behind the second-year series.
In changing up their 2020 season schedule, series organizers are adjusting to novel coronavirus-forced realities. Photo from the 2019 Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
The changes were made in conjunction with the lead producers/organizers of the race sites in question.
Once the APBA series season-opener set for May 15-17, the Thunder On Cocoa Beach event has been rescheduled for August 27-30. According to the release, the decision was made earlier than planned as a result of the recent guideline updates issued by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as discussion with Port Canaveral authorities.
“Our entire race committee remained optimistic that our race could go ahead as scheduled,” said Kerry Bartlett, the chairman for the Florida Space Coast event, in the release. “But right now we are dealing with a situation that is out of our control and is changing daily. Safety is our number one concern, and we are confident that Thunder On Cocoa Beach will be bigger than ever in August.”
While not part of the APBA series, the Solomons Island Grand Prix in Maryland—set to return after a six-year hiatus from the OPA schedule—is off for its original August 28-30 dates but might be rescheduled in September pending permit approval, according to OPA president Ed “Smitty” Smith. This decision was made “in order to make room for the rescheduling necessary within the six-race APBA Offshore series,” according to Smith. Both Smith Powerboat P1 chief executive officer Azam Rangoonwala express “their full understanding of the need for race site promoters to seriously consider postponing their scheduled events to allow sufficient recovery time from the coronavirus pandemic,” the release stated.
The Lake Race on the Lake of the Ozarks in Central Missouri currently remains on the schedule for its May 28-30 dates. “We will continue to monitor CDC updates and make a final decision within a few weeks,” said Mike Shepherd, the event’s lead organizer.
Also still set for its original dates—June 26-28—the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix Festival has added contingency race dates of August 14-16 in the event the race has to be cancelled. The organizers will announce a final decision on April 10.
“With a non-profit organizer (Suncoast Charities for Children) of the Sarasota Grand Prix, having a contingency race date in place is critical,” said Lucy Nicandri, the executive director of Suncoast Charities for Children and the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix’s key producer. “Like so many other non- profits, we are facing the need to maintain the financial flexibility to respond and continue supporting critical programs and services for those in need.”
Amended 2020 APBA Offshore National Champion Series Schedule
• May 28-30—the Lake Race, Ozarks, Mo.
• June 26-28—Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix, Sarasota, Fla.*
• July 24-26—St. Clair River Classic, St. Clair, Mich.
• July 31-August 2—Grand Lakes Grand Prix, Michigan City, Ind.
• August 27-30—Thunder On Cocoa Beach, Cocoa Beach, Fla.
• October 8-10—Roar Offshore, Fort Myers Beach, Fla.
(*Sarasota race contingency dates: August 14-16.)
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