Picking up the Key West, Fla., offshore racing producer reins from Super Boat International through an open-bid proposal process, Race World Offshore faced hurdles from the start. First and foremost, the organization’s awkward beginnings—from premature race site announcements to at least one bizarre press conference in a local Key West watering hole—had undermined much of its credibility. Second, the city’s prolonged Request For Proposal process cost Race World Offshore founder Larry Bleil and his chief operating officer Rodrick Cox months of precious planning time. Third, the Key West organization’s first “race” of the season in Dunkirk, N.Y., attracted just eight boats—and none in the same class.
The first Race World Offshore Key West Championships produced an uneven mix of exhilarating and thoroughly forgettable action. Photo courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
With a healthy contingent of Supercat and Super Stock raceboats, the outfit’s next event in Clearwater, Fla., proved distinctly better for the competitors and their fans, and also foreshadowed the classes most likely to show up in Key West in November. Strong participation from those two classes provided all of the most noteworthy action in Key West.
With three boats on Wednesday, two on Friday and one—Team CRC— on Sunday running with the Supercats, the Extreme class proved predictably disappointing. The bracket- class competition was equally lackluster, with the exception of Class 4. The Simmons Marine team of Jim Simmons and Jason Zolecki entered Key West undefeated after the six-race American Power Boat Association Offshore Championship Series. And after three races against the Octane and Los Muchachos Class 4 teams in Key West, they left the city at the end of the road that way— and with yet another championship to their credit.
Beyond that, the Supercat and Super Stock teams had to carry the show as none of the single-engine canopied V-bottom teams—in two thriving classes—showed up in Key West. But carry it they did.
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