Adjusting to challenging times created by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has affected sports around the world, the Offshore Powerboat Association has revised its event schedule for the 2020 season. The current plan has the season starting August 14-16 in Point Pleasant Beach, N.J., then heading south to Cocoa Beach, Fla., August 28-30.
The next scheduled stop is September 11-13 in Morehead City, N.C., for the Crystal Coast Grand Prix. (New September dates for the Lake Race in Central Missouri are still pending.) The season concludes with two events in Florida—Roar Offshore in Fort Myers Beach, October 8-11, and Englewood Beach (for the OPA World Championships) November 18-22.
As it has for the past five years, the Offshore Powerboat Association will hold its world championships in November in Englewood Beach, Fla. Photo by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix/speedonthewater.com.
“Cocoa Beach, originally one of the (APBA Offshore Championship) six-race series events, will host the first race of our 2020 Florida Triple Crown,” wrote Nick Smith, the son of OPA president Ed “Smitty” Smith, in a press release today. “The Triple Crown is an exciting new addition to the season in lieu of the six-race series. Fort Myers Beach will host the second (race of the Triple Crown). The last stop of the Triple Crown will be in Englewood Beach.”
While the Cocoa Beach, Lake of the Ozarks and Fort Myers Beach events are part of the second-year American Power Boat Association Offshore Championship co-produced by the OPA and Powerboat P1, that six-race series has been decimated with the cancellations of the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix in Florida, the St. Clair River Classic in Michigan and the Great Lakes Grand Prix in Indiana. The Florida and Michigan event cancellations were announced by their venue organizers this morning.
All races on the OPA roster, as well as those remaining in the APBA Series and the Race World Offshore events in Clearwater and Key West, Fla., are APBA-sanctioned. That means all have points that count toward APBA National Championships in various classes. Though Powerboat P1 will remain involved with all APBA Series contests, it will not be involved in the Point Pleasant Beach, Moorhead City or Englewood Beach events.
Wrote Smith, “We remain positive about the 2020 season as we still have so many great race sites, racers and staff that are all ready to deliver another great season of powerboat racing. Along with our partners at Powerboat P1, we are poised to stand and deliver.”
“For obvious reasons, we will not be able to support and attend all the events,” said Azam Rangoonwala, the chief executive officer of Powerboat P1. “We will do what we can to assist Smitty and everyone at OPA. Having worked with Smitty for the last year, we are confident he can keep the racing going, even in these difficult times. He always pulls it off.”