In yet another turn of events in one of the oddest offshore racing seasons in many years, Offshore Powerboat Association head Ed “Smitty” Smith and Larry Bleil of Race World Offshore met today at the Miss GEICO Offshore Racing Team shop in Riviera Beach, Fla., to discuss a possible collaboration in 2019. Pivotal among the issues discussed between the two leaders was the possibility of OPA and RWO collaborating on next year’s season finale in Key West, Fla., Bleil’s longtime home.
Offshore powerboat racing producers Ed Smith (left) and Larry Bleil met today to discuss a potential collaboration next season.
As reported previously on speedonthwater.com, Bleil plans to submit a bid on behalf of his organization when Key West begins its Request For Production (RFO) process for the races, which is expected to open as early as next week.
“I was very impressed with Smitty,” Bleil said. “He wants the same thing that I do, for everyone to race together and ‘make racing great again,’ as he likes to say, next season. We talked about working together next year and having OPA and the Miss GEICO team represented when we go through the RFO process with the city.”
Super Boat International’s five-year deal with Key West to produce its annual world championships concluded with its event earlier this month. Reached via email, SBI head John Carbonell responded to a question regarding next season’s plans for his organization.
“We are working on the 2019 schedule now, which includes Key West,” he wrote. “SBI’s policy is not to report anything until it is a 100 percent. We prefer not to speculate on issues that has not been determined yet.”
Bleil said he plans on producing two RWO races—Key West and Dunkirk, N.Y.—next year. The organization’s Mentor, Ohio, race has been cancelled. (Speedonthewater.com officially confirmed this yesterday through Cleveland Construction offshore racing team owner Mark Small, the Mentor event’s former lead backer.)
In late October, OPA’s Smith and Powerboat P1 head Azam Rangoonwalla announced that the two outfits will partner on a six-race, Florida-based series in 2019. Race venues for the series have not been announced.
Editor’s Note: This story was updated on Nov. 23 at 6:30 p.m. with Mr. Carbonell’s comments.