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Commentary: Flip The Script On The Offshore Powerboat Racing Season

Sitting in the lobby of the Vinoy Renaissance Resort in St. Petersburg, Fla., this morning and waiting for a ride back to my less-swanky hotel, I bumped into a bunch of Super Cat-class offshore racers including Jay Muller of WHM Motorsports, Chris Grant and Billy Moore of Graydel, Jimmy McIntyre and John Emmons of LiquorSplit, and Vinnie Diorio and Matt Jamniczky of SV Offshore Racing. All were on their way to check in for the St. Petersburg Grand Prix this weekend, the final race of Union International Motonautique Class 1 World Championship Series and the second-to-last contest in the American Power Boat Association National Championship Series.

The offshore powerboat racing action, as well as the weather, is guaranteed to be hot in St. Petersburg, Fla., this weekend. Photos from the 2022 St. Petersburg Grand Prix by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.

Here’s what else they had in common: Each was drenched in sweat and flushed from the short walk from the dry pits to the resort in the 90-plus-degree, 70-percent humidity heat.

“At least it’s not as miserable as Sarasota in July,” one of them quipped.

For the record “not as miserable as Sarasota in July” is not a strong marketing slogan, especially for a sport that happens outside.

So why then do we insist on having summer, as well as spring and fall, offshore powerboat races in Florida? What if we flipped the script, so to speak, and scheduled Sunshine State races in the winter and northern races in the summer, and then finished with Key West, Fla., in November?

I mentioned this zany notion to a few of the racers I bumped into this morning, and they all looked at me as if I had just unlocked the secrets of the universe. I even ran it by a few of the sport’s “powers that be” and none of them said it was a crazy notion.

It is not something that could happen overnight. Hurdles include working with established venues to change dates they’ve had for years, and that is not as easy as simply saying, “We need to do this because it’s too hot when we’re usually here.” Hotels tend to max out during the winter in Florida, as do the roadways. Both also are valid concerns.

If such a change were embraced by the offshore racing community, it most likely would take two or maybe even three seasons.

But then, nothing worth changing, especially when it’s long-established, changes easily. Some things are worth sweating.

Others are not.

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