For the first time in more than three decades, early November offshore powerboat races won’t happen in Key West, Fla. In advance of tonight’s Key West City Commission meeting decision on whether to pull the plug on all 2020 events in the famed destination, Larry Bleil of Race World Offshore is pulling the plug on his Key West plans.
The waters off Key West, Fla., will be unusually quiet in early November. Photo by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix/speedonthewater.com.
“I had a long conversation with (Key West city manager) Greg Veliz before we left,” said Bleil, who currently is embarking on a family road-trip vacation. “And I decided that the best thing to do is cancel Key West this year and focus on next year, though Clearwater (Fla.) is still on the schedule.”
In an offshore racing season that has yet to begin, only four races remain including the aforementioned Clearwater contest. The Offshore Powerboat Association’s event schedule still includes the Crystal Coast Grand Prix (Sept. 11-13) in Moorhead City, N.C., the Point Pleasant Beach Grand Prix (Sept. 25-27) in New Jersey and the Englewood Beach/Waterfest World Championships (Nov. 19-22) in Southwest Florida.
In 2021, Race World Offshore will enter the third year of a five-year contract to produce the Key West event. Though disappointed at having to cancel this year, Bleil remains upbeat and optimistic about the 2021 Key West Championship.
“We have a lot of stuff going on,” he said. “Polar Bear Coolers and MYCO Trailers came on as sponsors this year and they understand what we had to do and they’re going to stick with us. We are working with a hotel group as a sponsor that we will announce pretty soon. We are going to come back bigger and better next year.”
The Florida Powerboat Club’s Key West Poker Run happens concurrently with the Key West Championships. The Pompano Beach, Fla., organization’s president Stu Jones reaffirmed his commitment to the event.
“The FPC is 100-percent committed to continuing with the Key West Poker Run, regardless of the Race World Offshore decision,” he said.
Editor’s note: Florida Powerboat Club head Stu Jones was reached—and his statement was added—shortly after this story went live.