In the wake of Tuesday evening’s news that Clearwater, Fla., will be on the 2019 Race World Offshore schedule and will not be part of the six-race APBA Offshore Championship Series, the Offshore Powerboat Association contest in Fort Myers, Fla., will replace the Clearwater venue. The Fort Myers contest is set for Oct. 10-12.
Offshore powerboat racing will return to Fort Myers for the first time in more than 10 years as the final race of the six-event APBA Offshore Championship Series. Photo from the 2018 Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix by Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
Dubbed Roar Offshore by its organizers, the Fort Myers race already was on the OPA calendar as its national championship. OPA is partnering with Powerboat P1 to produce the APBA series, so replacing Clearwater with Fort Myers was a viable option for OPA president Ed “Smitty” Smith of OPA and Azam Rangoonwala, the chief executive officer of Powerboat P1.
While the Clearwater race was listed on the series schedule, it always was done so with the “To Be Determined” designation. From the outset, lead Clearwater organizer Frank Chivas, a local restaunteur and businessman, said he would wait for Key West, Fla., to officially name the winning bidder of its five-year contract to produce races in November before announcing his final decision. When the news broke Tuesday evening that Race World Offshore had won the contract, Chivas confirmed that Clearwater would be on the 2019 RWO schedule.
Smith said the decision to replace Clearwater with Fort Myers was relatively simple and painless.
“We didn’t have a signed contract with Clearwater—we were still waiting—so now we’re going with Fort Myers as the sixth race of the APBA series,” he said. “It’s a fantastic venue. I raced there 10 or 11 years ago. Mike Shepherd, who’s also promoting the Lake Race, which is the second stop of the series, is promoting Fort Myers.
“The later dates of Fort Myers allowed us to add a race in Ocean City, Md., for our guys in the Northeast,” he added. “That race is set for Sept. 27-29.”
The APBA Offshore Championship series kicks of May 17-19 in Cocoa Beach, Fla.
Editor’s note: Look for a detailed story on the Fort Myers race on speedonthewater.com next week.