Offshore powerboat race organizers and producers lean toward optimism in their estimations of the number of spectators on hand for their events. To be fair, with the exception of VIP areas and such, the sport has no “paid gates” so definitive spectator counts are impossible. Then again, a woman lying face-down on a towel facing away from the water all day probably didn’t come to the beach to watch the race.
Forget numbers, the crowd on the Fort Myers Beach Pier—just one viewing area for last weekend’s Roar Offshore event—was simply gigantic (click image to enlarge). Photo courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
So while all organizers provide crowd-size estimates, they are just that—estimates.
Roar Offshore organizers Tim Hill, his wife, Cyndee, and Mike Shepherd were expecting some 70,000 visitors to flood the Fort Myers Beach, Fla., last weekend, the season finale of the six-race American Power Boat Association Offshore Championship Series produced by the Offshore Powerboat Association and Powerboat P1. I don’t know that a sold-out, National Football League stadium-style crowd turned out for the event. Then again crowd density gets lost along a five-mile racecourse.
But I do know that the group on the pier—as you can see from the image above—was huge, as was the spectator fleet. (I got bored and stopped counting at 250 boats lining the outside perimeter of the course.) I’m talking massive.
Just as the folks who sardined themselves onto the Fort Myers Beach Pier definitely were there to watch the race, the boats in the spectator fleet didn’t accidentally end up anchored side by side in a line that stretched for miles. Most of those boats were packed to the gunwales with passengers. That much I could see from my perch on the 12th floor of the DiamondHead Resort, the host hotel for the event.
So I’ll dispense with numbers and go with an adjective. Gigantic. The crowd that turned out for Roar Offshore was simply gigantic.