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Offshore Racers From Abroad Facing Travel Uncertainty

Though teams from overseas comprise a tiny fraction of those that will compete in the 2020 American Power Boat Association Offshore Championship Series, they are integral to the Class ONE ranks. Two of three Class ONE outfits—the Dubai-based Victory team and 222 Offshore of Australia—that regularly competed had to travel extensively from their home countries to compete in the series last year. When the 2019 season ended, they stored their equipment in the U.S. and headed home.


International Class ONE teams are concerned about travel to and from the United States in light of the novel coronavirus pandemic. Photo courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.

But with COVID-19 pandemic travel restrictions tightening every day, overseas teams are concerned about competing in the United States according to Steve Curtis, the throttleman for the Class ONE Miss GEICO team.

“We are talking to eight teams, but this has everyone scared and also they can’t get over here to work on their boats,” he said. “We are still pushing ahead, but like everyone else it is worrying for us as we do not have any control of our own destiny.

“We’ve been talking to two new teams, one from Finland and a new one from New York,” he added. “Everyone is super-apprehensive.”

The U.S. government’s current travel restriction policy in response to COVID-19 is ongoing. Earlier today, for example, the U.S. and Canada agreed to close their border to non-essential travel. That alone could make things challenging for two Supercat-class team with Canadian drivers, Chris Grant of CJ Graydel and Simon Prevost of SV Racing.

“We have a backup plan for a wheel man,” said Vinnie Diorio, who throttles the SV Racing 39-foot Outerlimits Offshore Powerboats catamaran.

At present, government-imposed travel restrictions to the U.S. do not include New Zealand, which would present a problem for the Supercat-class Pro Floors Racing team owner/driver Wayne Valder.

“As of right now, Wayne still has all intentions of racing,” said Grant Bruggemann, the throttleman for 2019 APBA Supercat championship-winning team. “Just as everyone else is, he’s watching the situation very closely.”

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