In addition to being the Offshore Powerboat Association’s final event of the year and its own world championships, the Englewood Beach, Fla., races November 17-20 were slated to determine American Power Boat Association/Union Internationale Motonautique world champions in the V-bottom classes. Damage to the area from Hurricane Ian, which reached landfall in Fort Myers Beach just 80 miles south of the longtime OPA venue, put the event in question.
Though a decision has not been made, there is plenty of optimism that the Offshore Powerboat Association-produced Englewood Beach Waterfest races will move forward as planned next month. Photo by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
That question remains, but come Tuesday after the Englewood Beach Waterfest organizing committee meets everyone involved will be closer to an answer. A member of that committee and the point-person for the race/pits logistics, committee member Ray LaBadie is optimistic on the event moving forward as planned.
“It would be so good for this community—even the sheriff is on board with it, and he’s living in one bedroom of his storm-damaged house,” he explained. “Once we make a decision, we’ll present it to the (Charlotte and Sarasota) County Commissioners.
“Nobody has said when we have to make a decision yet, but I’m sure it has to be this week,” he added.
Reached via text message yesterday, OPA president Ed Smith expressed confidence that the Englewood Beach event will proceed as scheduled but declined to provide additional comment until after tomorrow’s meeting of the Englewood Beach Waterfest organizing committee.
The Englewood Beach area sustained substantial damage from Hurricane Ian.
If the event is canceled and APBA officials agree, the world championship-deciding V-bottom contests could be moved forward to the Race World Offshore-produced APBA/UIM Offshore World Championships November 6-13, in Key West, Fla., which originally was planned to crown world champs in just the catamaran classes. (The Englewood event also could be postponed and rescheduled, but with the holidays approaching that would prove challenging at best.)
Said Race World Offshore head Larry Bleil, “We have many V-bottom teams that have registered, and we already have those classes in our schedule.”
Speedonthewater.com will follow this story as it develops.
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