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Industry Reaction Mixed To New APBA Center Console Class

Last Friday’s news that the American Power Boat Association has created and published rules for new center console classes specifically for point-to-point, long-distance record events, such as the 2021-2022 APBA Ocean Cup Series, and time trials, has spurred spirited discussion among high-performance center console builders. Strong reactions, of course, were predictable given the popularity of the segment and its ongoing impact on the go-fast powerboat market.

The American Power Boat Association has created a new class for center consoles and the industry opinions vary. Photo by Jeff Helmkamp copyright Helmkamp Photos.

To go deeper, we reached out directly to several manufacturers to get their reactions and asked them for their takes on the new class. Here’s what they had to say.

Craig Barrie, Statement Marine, St. Petersburg, Fla.
“It’s interesting, but I need to know a lot more about it. Tops or no tops? Three engines or four engines? Or more? Minimum weight? I need to know more about the rules and they have to be in place and solid, because once it starts it’s not going to end.”

John Cosker, Mystic Powerboats, DeLand, Fla.
“We really don’t race anymore, but when we do we build raceboats. I really don’t think there is any crossover given what center consoles are actually being used for. I don’t know what we’d get out of being involved in it.”

Jeff Harris, Fountain Powerboats, Washington, N.C.
“Nobody believes more than we do in the value of racing to test and develop boats for the recreational market. For more than 40 years, Fountain has built a company on the backbone of ‘We Race, You Win.’ As the APBA develops a race category for the wildly popular center console market, several key factors come into play. Safety must be number one. History shows, these events can be extremely dangerous and even life-threatening. Providing proper safety and rescue crews on a long-distance run is a massive challenge. Additionally, the rules must protect the major players, with production minimums that eliminate one-off boat companies. That is not ‘five boats built.’ Done right, a center-console endurance class could be a bonanza for manufacturers, race fans and the APBA. Built on a mindset to simply capitalize on a fast-growing center console market will ultimately do more harm than good.”

John Ruiz, Cigarette Racing Team, Opa-locka, Fla.
“We’re aware of it and interested. Cigarette is committed to bringing back worldwide excitement to power boating”

Randy Scism, MTI, Wentzville, Mo.
“I think it’s cool that they have a class for the center consoles. That just shows where the market is going. They absolutely are great multi-purpose boats that are gaining traction everywhere. I can’t wait to run one at an event.”

Geoff Tomlinson, Nor-Tech Hi-Performance Boats, Fort Myers, Fla.
“Overall, the concept is intriguing. Seeing that class do something challenging like the Trinidad and Tobago Great Race would be quite the endurance race to watch. It would also be interesting to see if non-performance boat manufacturers like Boston Whaler, Intrepid and so on would get involved with such records and runs.”

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