With several offshore racing titles on the line at their upcoming event, Tim Hill, Cyndee Hill and Mike Shepherd, the organizers of Roar Offshore October 10-12 in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., are expecting the biggest fleet of the six-race American Power Boat Association Offshore Championship Series. Based on their attendance at other races on the circuit—the product of a collaboration between the Offshore Powerboat Association and Powerboat P1—and discussions with race teams, they are expecting 75 boats to show up for the season-ending contest.
The biggest fleet of the OPA/P1-backed APBA Offshore Championship Series is expected for the season-finale in Fort Myers Beach, Fla. Photo courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
“We’ve have attended racers at the other venues and talked to racers there,” said Hill. “We’re also getting phone calls and inquiries every day from teams that are coming and have questions.
“I am told that Fort Myers Beach had fleets in the 100-boat range in the mid 1990s,” he added. “But we will still have the largest race here in a very long time and the largest race of the offshore season.”
To prepare for the large fleet, Hill and Shepherd have tapped Ray Labaddie, the primary organizer of the annual OPA World Championships/Waterfest in Englewood Beach, Fla., in November, to organize the wet and dry pit areas.
“Ray is our pit boss—he has a lot of experience and knows what he’s doing,” he said. “We were worried about having enough space. But members of the Miss GEICO and AHM Motorsports teams, who have been here for our pre-event mixers, have checked out and say we have plenty of space. That’s a relief.”
Hill paused, then laughed. “We are trying convince people not to bring extra boats and trailers and RVs, but they probably will anyway.”
Multiple mixers in advance of next weekend’s races reportedly have helped unite the Fort Myers Beach community around the event. This evening’s mixer at Coste Island Cuisine, a beachfront restaurant with an excellent view of the racecourse, is the final such event and is open to the public with free food and prizes. (The restaurant still has raceday V.I.P. tables for sale and they can be purchased tonight at the venue or on its website.)
The organizers are expecting to attract 70,000 visitors to Fort Myers Beach during the three-day event. Hill estimated that local hotels are 90-percent book.
“Airbnb has been a godsend,” he said.