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HomeRacingRace World Offshore On Deck For First Race Of 2022 Season In Clearwater

Race World Offshore On Deck For First Race Of 2022 Season In Clearwater

Though the first Race World Offshore-produced event of the 2022 season is called the Baystar Clearwater ‘Nationals’ per longstanding tradition, the September 23-25 event in the Southwest Florida actually is the penultimate contest in the eight-race American Power Boat Association Offshore National Championship Series and the fifth of eight races in the concurrent Class 1 World Championship Series being produced by P1 Offshore. The handle for the 13th annual event pays homage to its days as an event on the former Super Boat International roster.

Offshore racing returns to Clearwater, Fla., in a week-and-a-half. Photos from the 2021 event by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.

But by any name, the event is among the most viewer friendly offshore races of the season. The 4.38-mile, four-turn course with long straightaways is easily viewable from the wide, white-sand beach and the hotels on the strand, and every year the spectator fleet leans toward massive. The contest also will be streamed live on the Race World Offshore Facebook page.

“Clearwater is finally here and we’re very excited to produce our first race of the season,” said Larry Bleil, the president of Key West, Fla.,-based Race World Offshore. “We’ve been able to help APBA and P1 this season from a technical inspection side but it’s just not the same. We’re looking for a good turnout and a really great race.”

Race World Offshore’s Larry Bleil and his team are eager to produce their first race of the season. Photo by Cole McGowan copyright P1 Offshore.

With registration closing in two days, 38 teams have signed up so far including eight in the Super Cat class, five in Class 1, seven in Super Stock and three—the magic number for points scoring in any class under current APBA rules—in the 450R Factory Stock class.

Though the Super Cat and Class 1 numbers likely won’t change, the Super Stock fleet will grow to 10 boats before registration closes, according to class representative Ryan Beckley.

“We should have as many teams as we had at the St. Pete race earlier this month,” Beckley said.

The Clearwater event always attracts a strong spectator fleet.

The action will be begin Saturday at 11 a.m. with testing and practice, which closes at 3:30 p.m. Though it was a popular Saturday addition at the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix and St. Petersburg Grand Prix, pole-position qualifying rounds for Class 1 (or any other class) will not be possible in Clearwater.

“Our permit does not allow for setting the course on Saturday,” said Race World Offshore’s Rodrick Cox. “And there are other issues, such as sea turtle habitat restrictions, that state we are not allowed to start a race until four hours after sunrise.”

Competition starts Sunday. The first race of the day is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m., followed by race No. 2 at 12:30 p.m., the third race at 2 p.m. and the final contest of the day at 3 p.m.

Editor’s note: As they have with every APBA and Class 1 series race this season, contributing editor Eric Colby and Pete Boden will cover the Clearwater event.

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