Scheduled for November 21-24, the Offshore Powerboat Association World Championships in Englewood Beach, Fla., will be the final races of the 2020 season. That puts time on the side of the organizers the sixth annual event, which anchors the annual Englewood Beach Waterfest celebration, in light of still-evolving Centers for Disease Control and Prevention safety guidelines for COVID-19. But even though they have five months before the first green flag flies, members of Englewood Beach organizing team are wasting none of it.
Despite the complications created by COVID-19 safety mandates, key Englewood Beach organizer Ray LaBadie is predicting a strong turnout for the 2020 OPA World Championships. Photos from the 2019 OPA/Englewood Beach Waterfest World Championships by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix/speedonthewater.com.
To that end, the organizers are already “working closely with our local, and county government officials, first responders and ancillary organizations to move cautiously toward the planning of this fall’s event,” according to a press release from the Englewood Beach Waterfest group.
“As we are all cognizant of the current situation presented by Covid-19, we wanted to assure the public that a collaborative plan would be developed to include the specific directives provided by officials, to include guidelines which will satisfy state and local regulations regarding Covid-19 in place at the time of the event this year,” said Steve Gardiner, the president of the Englewood Beach board of directors, in the release. “The financial impact of Waterfest has proven to be a significant driver of revenue over the last several years, benefitting small businesses in Englewood Beach and its surrounding communities.
“As we move forward into June, our marketing team is busy working on the final stages of development for our expanded and soon-to-be-released website,” he continued. “That will make it even easier for everyone to navigate and access pertinent information.”
Said Steve Gardiner of Englewood Beach, “The financial impact of Waterfest has proven to be a significant driver of revenue over the last several years,”
Though he hasn’t been in close contact with race teams of late, Ray LaBadie, the lead organizer and public face of the event, said he is expecting a strong turnout for OPA’s 2020 season finale.
“In my gut, I feel it’s going to be big—and I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “If other sites cancel, will other teams come out for one or two races? So far, the Supercat teams say they are not coming to Englewood Beach. If there are two OPA races and two Race World Offshore races, we may get all of them. There’s a lot to consider in the big theme of things.”