This isn’t a good time to be an offshore powerboat racing fan in the United States—it’s a great time. I’ve been waiting to write that sentence since 2004, when American Powerboat Association (APBA) Offshore LLC toppled and shattered.
As anticipated, the SBI Charlotte Harbor season-opener off Englewood Beach, Fla., attracted a solid Superboat-class fleet last weekend. Photo courtesy/copyright Jay Nichols/Naples Image.
As it tends to do every decade or so, the sport began a downward spiral fed by internal politics and splinter groups, but this one was accelerated by theimploding U.S. economy. Offshore powerboat racing is fueled by discretionary income—and lots of it. Tough economic times tend to decimate race fleets.
But that was then. Thanks to better economic times and the retooling of its technical rules in late 2012, the Superboat class of Super Boat International (SBI) is absolutely rocking heading into the 2014 season, which kicks off with the season opener in Charlotte Harbor, FL. While not all the Superboat teams (which field catamarans from 36 to 44 feet with twin 750-horsepower naturally aspirated engines), will be ready for the first race, by early to mid-season there could be as many as 12 Superboat cats in the field.