Just three years ago, offshore powerboat racing appeared to have the kind of momentum not seen since the early 2000s and the days of APBA Offshore, LLC. A pair of American Power Boat Association member- organizations, the New Jersey-headquartered Offshore Powerboat Association and United Kingdom-based Powerboat P1 joined forces to create a six-race APBA Offshore National Championship Series that saw record-setting fleets at all six venues. Race World Offshore ,a fellow APBA member-organization, produced its second weeklong world championships in Key West, Fla., that showed much improvement over its inaugural 2018 event, which thanks to a late decision by the Key West City Commission gave RWO founder Larry Bleil and his team little time to plan.
With plenty to gain—and lose—this season, it’s time for offshore racing to rise to the occasion. Photo by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
All things considered, 2019 was a good year for the sport, the best season in many years.
And then came the 2020 season when all but a few races were cancelled thanks to the pandemic. The following season produced some outstanding performances on the racecourse,
a rise in the Super Stock class, a dip in the Super Cat ranks and the deterioration of the partnership between the Offshore Powerboat Association and Powerboat P1.
Why did the relationship fall apart? Forget the ugly, unprofessional public back-biting between organizations and silly tribalism among many of the racers—those were superficial and, frankly, petty issues. The simple truth is that the organizational cultures and objectives within OPA and Powerboat P1 are so different that a long-term relationship was unlikely from the start.
Another simple truth? It doesn’t really matter that the partnership fell apart in 2021 because despite their separation OPA and P1 are still— like RWO—working under the American Powerboat Association sanctioning umbrella for the eight-race national championship series.
If the sport has demonstrated anything in its too-often-factionalized history, it’s that splinter groups always fail. Unity matters.