Seeking a fresh start from decades of tribalism in offshore powerboat racing, the Offshore Powerboat Association, Powerboat P1 and Race World Offshore—all American Power Boat Association member-organizations—have come up with an intriguing plan for the 2021. And as it is with most agreements involving entities with sometimes conflicting agendas, the plan required compromise on the part of everyone involved, most notably OPA president Ed “Smitty” Smith, P1’s chief executive officer Azam Rangwoonwala, Race World Offshore founder and president Larry Bleil and APBA Offshore Commission chairman Rich Luhrs.
For 2021, the Offshore Powerboat Association, Powerboat P1 and Race World Offshore will work cohesively under the American Power Boat Association umbrella. Photos by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
Translation? For the first time in 30 years, domestic offshore racing will be under one sanctioning body—APBA.
Here’s what the 2021 season will look like:
• OPA has 12 races on its schedule. Six of those contests—finishing up with Roar Offshore in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., in October—will be part of its series to determine the OPA/APBA National Champions in all classes.
“We’ve never had this many races on a schedule before—I just love this sport,” said Smith in a joint press release from the APBA member-organizations. “We’ll promote or co-promote at least one offshore race event a month from April through to November and again partner with Powerboat P1 to stage a six-venue APBA Offshore Championship series. We’ll head back to Maryland in July for the OPA Kilo Run in Baltimore.”
“As our 19th year begins, OPA has never been more excited about the landscape of our sport,” he added. “The APBA championship series will be back in full swing with P1. We have six other venues coming to 2021, including some familiar returns, and new additions. A major round of applause is in order for promoters like Jeff McCann, and Mark Waddington for carrying the sport through 2020.
Tapping several races on its schedule, the Offshore Powerboat Association is planning Northeast Championship Series, well as a kilo-run event for July.
• Powerboat P1 will produce six Class 1 races in conjunction with local venue organizers, including the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix and a St. Petersburg, Fla., contest. Of the five races P1 is producing, four of the events are on the OPA schedule as part of its six-race National Championship Series, which means those four contests will have real-time Livestream and post-event television coverage.
“Our principal aim is to return Class 1 to the pinnacle of offshore racing by attracting more teams and building the worldwide television audience,” said Rangoonwala. “We will work closely with everyone involved in offshore racing to unite the sport and meet this objective.”
Though Powerboat’s P1 central focus is Class 1, other classes in four regular season races and the Key West World Championships will benefit through its involvement with Livestream and post-event television coverage.
• Race World Offshore will produce two races, one in Clearwater, Fla., and another in Key West Florida. The Key West event will be the official APBA/UIM World Championships for all catamaran classes, mean Supercat, Super Stock and Class 1 (though Class 1 is under the Union International Motonautique organization, which was formed after the APBA). All other classes will be invited to compete in Key West, but only those in the Supercat, Super Stock and Class 1 ranks will be vying for world titles.
“I am looking forward to working with all the APBA offshore promoters and race teams, combining our efforts to restore the sport of offshore racing to its former glory and plan for the future,” said Bleil.
For catamaran-class world titles, all eyes will be on Key West.
• The OPA Englewood Beach/Waterfest APBA/UIM World Championships will crown teams in the V-bottom ranks including Pro Stock V, Super Vee Extreme and Vee Extreme, as well as all other bracketed classes.
• The 2021 schedule also will include a long-distance Ocean Cup event in early October in the waters off Southern California. The Around-Catalina endurance run will happen in conjunction with the Great Pacific Airshow at Huntington Beach.
Said Luhrs in the release, “As a result of the combined efforts of the Offshore Powerboat Association, Powerboat P1, Race World Offshore and Ocean Cup, racers and fans will be treated to the largest and most varied program of events in many years.”
Editor’s Note: The complete 2021 schedules for the Offshore Powerboat Association, Powerboat P1 and Race World Offshore are list on the Speedonthewater.com master calendar.