After a year of waiting with nothing guaranteed, Race World Offshore head Larry Bleil of Key West, Fla., is more than a little jazzed that the American Power Boat Association/Union Internationale Motonautique Offshore World Championships have arrived in his fair city. But whatever traction was lost for Bleil’s race-producing organization with the 2020 event’s pandemic-forced cancellation has been more than made up for with pent-up demand among racers and theirs fans—at least if yesterday’s traditional raceboat parade down Duval Street is a bellwether for this week’s happening.
Sunday’s raceboat parade in Key West, Fla., drew a massive crowd to Duval Street. Photos by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
“Yesterday’s crowd was the largest ever for the parade—people were packed on both sides of Duval from Rick’s to the waterfront,” Bleil said. “It was the most exciting day for me.”
Ryan Beckley, a Super Stock-class racer who grew up in the Florida city at the end of the road and has been involved—first as a fan and later as a racer—in decades of Key West offshore competitions, agreed.
All the right logos in all the right places.
“I almost always drive the truck in the parades—most of our local friends here and sponsors ride on the boat,” he said. “It was the biggest Sunday parade that I’ve ever seen in Key West. There were double the amount of fans than we’ve seen in the past.
“Keep in mind also that was without the cruise ships here,” he added. “Key West has voted to not allow as many big ships as the city did prior to COVID. So there wasn’t a random amount of extra people here for the parade.”
Enjoy more images from yesterday’s Key West happening in the slideshow above.
The stream of raceboats being towed down Duval Street has long been billed as the “The World’s Fastest Boat Parade.” But other than the boats themselves, there was nothing fast about it this time around.
“That wasn’t the case this year for one reason—the amount of spectators was off the chain,” said Tyler Miller, the owner and throttleman of the Supercat-class M CON team. “I’ve never see that many people on the Sunday parade and everyone was so excited to see all the boats back in town after a year hiatus. What an awesome way to kick off a great week of racing.”
Despite the giant turnout, the moments before the parade likely were the quietest Duval Street will see this week.
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