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Making Sense Of Offshore Racing’s Alphabet Soup

A quote from Stock V-class offshore racer Brit Lilly after his trifecta world championship run in Key West, Fla., caught my attention and confirmed what I already suspected—that even veteran racers such as Lilly, don’t know what to make of offshore powerboat racing’s current alphabet soup.

“I think we also won a UIM world title,” he said after his third dominant victory in as many races. “I don’t know what that means yet, but I will.”

The Super Stock-class Performance Boat Center team is one of several spec-class outfits that departed Key West, Fla., last month with American Power Boat Association and Union Internationale Motonautique world titles. Photo by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.

Granted, Lilly is 35 years old and races in non-bracketed classes where the age skews upward of half a century. But he’s also steeped in the sport’s history and a legacy racer—his father is offshore racing legend Art Lilly.

If a competitor of Brit Lilly’s stature does not know what UIM means, it’s a safe bet that most of his fellow racers don’t. Same goes for fans of the sport. And frankly, why would they?

For much of the season, the RWO-produced Key West races were billed as the APBA Offshore World Championships. A couple of months before the early November races, they became the Union Internationale Motonautique/American Power Boat Association Offshore World Championships.

The messaging from all parties involved was weak. To be fair to those parties, things happened quickly and effective messaging is a whole lot harder than it looks.

So let’s spell it all out.

The Union Internationale Motonautique is powerboat racing’s international sanctioning body with deep ties and affiliations in the overall motorsports community. Actually older than the UIM, the American Power Boat Association is powerboat racing’s domestic sanctioning body and a UIM member-organization.

Race World Offshore, and for that matter the Offshore Powerboat Association and Powerboat P1, are APBA member-organizations. That doesn’t mean Race World Offshore, the Offshore Powerboat Association or Powerboat P1 are in inferior to the American Power Boat Association. In fact, without those groups offshore racing wouldn’t exist in this country.

It simply means there is cohesion among the groups under one umbrella, proper record-keeping, what should (key word) be a shared rulebook with what should (key word again) safety guidelines and much more.

A week after the Race World Offshore-produced event in Key West, the Offshore Powerboat Association produced American Power Boat Association-sanctioned (and in a subsequent development Union International Motonautique-sanctioned) world championships for offshore racing’s Bracket classes in Englewood Beach, Fla. Spec-class, APBA-sanctioned world titles were decided the week before in Key West.

Is it a lot to keep straight? Yes and no, depending on your attention span and its close sibling, attention to detail. But at least now you have the basics.

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