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Inside SOTW Mag: The Lucy Nicandri Interview

Lucy Nicandri and her team of organizers and volunteers had planned to produce the 37th annual Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix this summer. But life, as John Lennon famously penned in a song lyric, is what happens while you’re busy making plans.

Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix Festival head Lucy Nicandri: “You have to run it like a business.” Photo by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill/speedonthewater.com.

After months of consternation and endless meetings with her committee members, city officials and sponsors in light of the evolving COVID-19 pandemic, the Suncoast Charities For Children executive director cancelled the event—and vowed to bring it back in 2021. Nicandri, who is 58 years old and moved to Sarasota, Fla., from Auburn, N.Y., in 1982 started as a volunteer with the race not long after her relocation. In 2004, she took on her current role and, from the start, she set a high bar for offshore powerboat racing venue producers. And despite this year’s cancellation of the Sarasota event, she continues to do the same.

Scrubbing this year’s race must have been difficult.

It was, but it’s been a long process. Back in March, I was having concerns about how other countries were being affected by the coronavirus and how lives there were affected. I began to see red flags from social distancing to events being cancelled to cities being completely shut down. I started the process by calling our sponsors and asking them, “Should we cancel, how would you feel about it?” They appreciated that, and 99 percent of them said, “Lucy, your event is in our budget. If you can’t do it this year, we will support you next year.”

The next step was to go to our board of directors, and they all said it was going to depend a lot on what happens to the businesses of our sponsors. So many of them are hospitality businesses like restaurants and hotels. Our presenting sponsor is Sarasota County. The third step was to call every city council member and get his or her input. Those conversations were very difficult but mostly positive.

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