Following last month’s announcement that it had signed an exclusive 10-year deal with the Union Internationale Motonautique to organize, promote and produce Class 1 offshore racing competition, United Kingdom-based Powerboat P1 has released its 2021 competition for the class. All races in the series will be sanctioned by the American Power Boat Association, as Powerboat P1 is a member of the organization.
Powerboat P1 has released the planned 2021 schedule for the Class 1 ranks. Photo from Roar Offshore Fort Myers Beach 2019 by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
The schedule, as currently planned, is:
• May 20-23—Thunder on Cocoa Beach, Cocoa Beach, Fla.
• June 26-28—Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix, Sarasota, Fla.
• August 5-8—Great Lakes Grand Prix, Michigan City, Ind.
• September 3-6—St. Pete Powerboat Grand Prix, St. Petersburg, Fla.
• October 7-9—Roar Offshore Fort Myers Beach, Fort Myers Beach, Fla.
• November 7-14—Race World Offshore Key West Championships, Key West, Fla.
Four of those races—Coca Beach, Sarasota, Michigan City and Fort Myers—are on the 2021 schedule for the Offshore Powerboat Association, which like Powerboat P1 and Race World Offshore is an APBA member-organization.
“The impact of Covid-19 on this season’s racing has enabled us to already complete our key planning for 2021 that includes drawing up a provisional race calendar and putting in place two significant, far-reaching agreements with the UIM and APBA,” said Azam Rangoonwala, chief executive officer of Powerboat P1. “These will allow us to develop the UIM Class 1 Championship commercially and promote the series both nationally and globally to deliver enhanced value for race teams, venues, sponsors and partners.”
Each event on the 2021 P1 schedule will livestreamed in its entirety—meaning all classes in addition to Class 1 will be covered—on its Facebook page. The P1 group also will produce a one-hour television program from each race to air at a later date.
According to a press release from the organization, P1 has reached agreement with the APBA to obtain the exclusive worldwide rights to film and distribute its offshore events for the next five years—with an option to renew.
“APBA Offshore is pleased to be part of this TV relationship with P1,” said Rich Luhrs, the commissioner of the organization’s Offshore category, in the release. “We feel that quality broadcast television coverage is a basic building block for any successful motorsport.
“APBA and P1 are both focusing on a new and exciting model to highlight not only our sport but, more importantly, its personalities,” he continued. “This is a unique opportunity for offshore racing to focus on our own heroes, and we look forward to working closely with P1’s world class team toward that goal.”
Added Rangoonwala, “Our principal aim is to return Class 1 to the pinnacle of offshore racing by attracting more teams and building the worldwide television audience. Over the coming years, we will work closely with everyone involved in offshore racing to unite the sport and meet this objective.”
Class 1 teams did not compete in the 2019 Key West event—and like all but three OPA contests this year’s races were cancelled. Race World Offshore’s Larry Bleil said he is eager to have Key West, his organization’s home-base, as the season-finale venue for the Class 1 series.
“I can’t wait,” he said. “With APBA and UIM race teams in Key West starting next year, we will have a true world championship. “This is the start of great things to come. Stay tuned.”
Lucy Nicandri, the longtime lead organizer of the annual Sarasota Power Boat Grand Prix, is equally pleased to have the Class 1 teams returning to the Southwest Florida venue.
“Once again, Powerboat P1 is thinking ahead towards next year’s race season and beyond, which is so important to maintain a positive momentum for both the sport and race venues,” said Nicandri, who is the executive director Suncoast Charities for Children. “The television and livestream coverage, as well as the participation from both U.S. and international teams, is extremely important to sponsors, promoters, and race fans.”
Asked how he sees the 2021 Class 1 season shaking out, Miss GEICO throttleman described it as “promising.” As the team did in 2019, the Miss GEICO outfit is planning to run a full Class 1 season.
“For our first year back, I think it’s important that all of the race sites are hard-and-fast venues,” he said. “There is no question about them, and I believe that’s really important so teams can commit and make plans. There has always been a problem with offshore racing in that we don’t have a solid calendar. And I like that Key West is involved—it’s an iconic race. I like that they included Michigan City, which adds some site diversity. Azam has done a good job with this schedule, without alienating anybody.
“The key to the whole thing is the (COVID-19) vaccine,” he added. “Once the international teams can get it, they’ll be willing and able to travel here.”
According to the release, P1 will announce further details—including the points structure for the Class 1 championship—by the end of January.