This being Friday and me being in a fine mood—because it’s Friday—I’m not going to rip anyone or anything too hard. But I just called a friend at the Super Boat International Offshore World Championships in Key West, Fla., which started this Wednesday and end Sunday, and asked him how the races were going. He said the turbine-powered Miss Geico catamaran was putting on its usual spectacular show running circles around everyone and that the two Spirit of Qatar cats looked spectacular and strong. Beyond that, however, he was less than impressed.
“There are probably 25 to 30 boats,” said my friend, who’s been coming to the offshore worlds for 10 years. “And last night, with the exception of Sloppy Joe’s, there was hardly anyone on the street. The viewing areas were wide open today. The crowd is definitely down.”
OK, I know the economy is rough. I know that the marine industry has taken a beating. I know we’re all being a lot more careful about how we spend our money. I get it.
But 25 to 30 boats at the offshore worlds? I estimate that represents no more than half, and probably less, of the viable racing fleet in the United States. And a light crowd at offshore racing’s premiere annual event, at what is inarguably offshore racing’s best venue?
That doesn’t mean the racers aren’t racing hard or the competition is weak. It doesn’t mean they’re not putting on a great show for the spectators, or that the spectators aren’t enjoying themselves. But it could be better. And it should be better. And it’s not just the economy.
I’ll leave it at that—for now. It’s Friday, after all.—Matt Trulio