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Class 1 Pivots For The Key West Worlds

Even the best plans change with the circumstances when necessary. Case in point, Class 1 offshore racing next week at the American Power Boat Association/Union Internationale Motonautique World Championships produced by Race World Offshore and presented by Performance Boat Center in Key West, Fla.

Since the first Class 1 event seven months ago in Cocoa Beach, Fla., the Class 1 World Championship has been presented as an eight-race affair with the final three contests of the series this week in Key West, Fla. Right, wrong or somewhere between, Key West merely was the venue for those races. The message coming of Powerboat P1, which holds the event-production and marketing right to Class 1 under the Union Internationale Motonautique sanctioning umbrella, was consistent throughout the season.

In a departure from the the original P1 Offshore plan, three races next week will determine the Race World Offshore Class 1 world champion. Photos by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.

But that was then, as the saying goes, when Class 1 had four teams and growth was anything but guaranteed.

As the season progressed, the class began to grow and now six Class 1 teams will be in the city at the end of the road next week and are gearing up for the Wednesday, Friday and Sunday races. Still, teams that joined Class 1 late in the season had no shot at claiming a title in an eight-race series.

So despite P1 Offshore’s initial plan for an eight-race UIM-sanctioned Class 1 World Championship, the series officially ended at five races following the late-September Race World Offshore event in Clearwater, Fla. That makes the Huski Chocolate team of throttleman Steve Curtis and driver Travis Pastrana the official 2022 UIM Class 1 world champions.

As for the three races later this week, they will produce a Race World Offshore Class 1 Key West world champion.

“The UIM Class 1 Championship run by P1 has been staged this year as ‘year 0’ of a 10-year agreement and this has been a building year,” explained Azam Rangoonwala, the chief executive officer of P1 Offshore/Powerboat P1. “Before the Great Lakes Grand Prix. we were almost down to three boats but we were given some flexibility in the rules due to the building of the class and a small boat count.

Huski Chocolate is the official Union Internationale 2022 Class 1 world champion.

“Now we are at six Class 1 boats as well as running in the same race as the Extreme class, and that plus various factors mean this does not fit into the current UIM rules,” he added. “But we have two UIM officials attending Key West from Europe for multiple reasons, including to assess Class 1 as it currently stands. We plan to review and ensure we can agree UIM Class 1 requirements for 2023 between P1 and UIM.”

Class 1 racers applauded the move.

“Key West has always been like—a stand-alone event—for like 40 years,” said Steve Curtis, the throttleman for the Huski Chocolate team, the odds-on favorite to prevail in the original eight-race series. “Now, there is no reason to hold back and finish to take a title. Now we can actually race and have some fun.”

Now with the dfYoung Class 1 team owned by Rich Wyatt, Marc Granet—a former Curtis teammate with Miss GEICO—agreed. Granet and Wyatt joined Class 1 in September for the St. Petersburg Grand Prix, where they finished second in their 50-foot Mystic Powerboats catamaran, and followed it up with a fourth place in the Race World Offshore Clearwater ‘Nationals.’

“We are building a class here, so we need to keep the teams engaged and create excitement,” Granet explained. “The racers need a very real goal to shoot for with something on the line, and the fans will reap the benefit of excitement from that.”

Rangoonwala described having UIM and APBA sanctioning and safety rules as “a balancing act.”

“Personally I believe a stronger relationship with the UIM and APBA is good for all and can assist in growing the sport both in the USA and internationally, he said. “The APBA obviously has massive growth in offshore thanks to all parties involved.

“Race World Offshore will be running the event and be making the final decisions on starting order and points for the Key West event,” he added. “We have worked very well with Larry Bleil and the RWO staff this year as they have managed our tech, and we have plans to work with them again in 2023. Larry has been very accommodating and understanding.”

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