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Commentary: Cut Organizers A Break—And Look Ahead

For better or worse—and I appreciate both sides of the argument—social media has given everyone a voice. So I have to laugh, between small fits of exasperation, when I read negative comments directed toward organizers and their communities who have had to cancel events in the face of COVID-19 pandemic concerns on speedonthewater.com’s Facebook pages.

Because unless you’re an event organizer, you have no clue what they’re up against. An event rescheduled from its original date can, for example, fall out of the fiscal-year funding window for its supporting municipality or county. From offshore races to poker runs, the summer schedule is wall to wail with weekend events. Simply finding a new date without conflicting with another event is next to impossible. Case in point? The American Powerboat Association Offshore Championship Series event in Cocoa Beach, Fla., has been rescheduled to August 28-30, the same date as the Lake of the Ozarks Shootout in Central Missouri.

And that is no one’s “fault.”

Unfortunate as 2020 go-fast boating event cancellations are, there are still plenty on the calendar. Photo from the 2018 Florida Powerboat Club Key West Poker Run by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix/speedonthewater.com.

Second-guessing organizer choices to cancel or reschedule their events is a fool’s errand, especially this year. Permit applications for such events do not write themselves, much less are processed in same-day fashion. Same goes for finding and replacing (as tends to happen when the economy takes a dive) corporate sponsors and coordinating with city services from law enforcement to sanitation. That stuff and much more takes months, even years of planning.

Sound like a fun gig? See anyone getting rich from it? So if you find yourself inclined to do otherwise, cut organizers a break.

Regardless of your opinions or mine about why we are where we are, here we are—with the summer go-fast boating season still ahead.

Next month’s events include the Four Horsemen Poker Run in Wisconsin and the Cigarette Owners Rendezvous at the Lake of the Ozarks. With its inaugural Outboards Only Fun Run, Performance Boat Center, which produces the annual Cigarette event, has even stepped up with another June event.. And though the 2020 Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix has been cancelled, in late June its organizers will produce the inaugural Sarasota Blast On The Bay Fun Run.

Though July’s Boyne Thunder Poker Run has been scrubbed, the 1,000 Islands Charity Poker Run in July remains on the 2020 schedule. Still-intact events in August include the aforementioned Thunder on Cocoa Beach race and Lake of the Ozarks Shootout, as well as the Florida Powerboat Club Emerald Coast Poker Run.

Farther out on the schedule, and, as such better-positioned to avoid a COVID-19-fueled shut down, is the Race World Offshore contest at the end of September in Clearwater, Fla., the APBA Series event in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., in early October, the early November RWO Key West Championships and concurrent Florida Powerboat Club poker run in Key West, Fla., followed by the Offshore Powerboat Association’s World Championships the following weekend in Englewood Beach, Fla.

Of course, there’s much more on the roster between now and then.

To different degrees, all of us are aggravated, frustrated, disappointed, saddened—supply your own adjective if none of these fit you—at what has happened to the 2020 go-fast boating event season so far. But much of the season remains intact. You can worry about it staying that way or maybe even rage about this year’s event cancellations on social media, both of which will change nothing.

Or you can just look forward to it.

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