Announced in September 2021, the five-year deal for Cigarette Racing Team to be the presenting sponsor of the annual Race World Offshore-produced American Power Boat Association/Union International Motonautique Offshore World Championships in Key West, Fla., is off. Larry Bleil, the president of Race World Offshore and Key Largo-based Pete Riviero, who is handling the Opa-Locka, Fla., boat company’s offshore racing efforts, have confirmed that the entities parted weeks ago.
The five-year presenting-sponsorship deal between Cigarette Racing team and event producer Race World Offshore for Key West is off. Photos by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
Cigarette opted out of the deal after the Miami International Boat Show in February. Though Riveiro—a Stock V offshore racer who owns The Firm Realty Racing/MSP Recovery team—and Bleil had terse discussions on the possibilities of moving forward on a modified sponsorship arrangement, those discussions did not lead to a new deal.
“I am working with a new major corporate sponsor,” said Bleil. “Hopefully, I’ll be able to announce it a couple of weeks.”
According to Riveiro, the issue for Cigarette was the value delivered by the sponsorship. Beyond that he declined to comment.
Cigarette was the presenting sponsor for the 2021 Key West event. The company provided the paceboat for all three races and also supported the Florida Powerboat Club Key West Poker Run Village with a massive audio-visual display in its poker-run village.
Cigarette is among the sponsors behind next weekend’s LuminSea Offshore Powerboat Races in Miami during the city’s first-ever Formula One event. Riviero is the key organizer of the first-year event. (LuminSea is a marine navigation lighting technology company owned by John H. Ruiz, who purchased Cigarette Racing Team last year.)
A Cigarette 515 sportboat paced all three days of competition during the 2021 APBA/UIM Offshore World Championships produce by Race World Offshore.
Bleil said that while he was disappointed by Cigarette’s exit as a presenting sponsor, he’s moved on and is looking forward to producing his third Key West offshore world championships.
“We know Key West is the most prestigious offshore powerboat race in the world,” he said. “It takes the entire community working together and if it’s not handled correctly there are no races in Key West. Offshore racers are a close-knit group, and they should be. It’s a tough sport and they deserve to compete in great events.”
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