Just got off the phone with Mark Weber, the president of the American Power Boat Association headquartered in Detroit. A former Unlimited hydroplane racing champion, Weber became the leader of the organization in December 2008.
At present, the association is in the final stages of completing its Offshore rulebook. On board under APBA sanction for the 2010 season is the Pacific Offshore Powerboat Racing Association.
Weber emphasized that the Offshore category of APBA, which is the domestic sanctioning body for the Union Internationale Motonautique, is still in a rebuilding process. (UIM sanctions Powerboat P1 and Class 1 racing overseas.)
“Nothing has been finalized with the other offshore racing groups,” he said. “We hope we can come to come to a mutual understanding, but it’s going to take some time. For us to reposition ourselves, it’s going to take time. We realize we have to be patient and that we have to listen.”
Weber said he understands that, in addition to listening, APBA has to make itself more attractive to other groups.
“We just reduced some of our membership fees because we realize we have to rebuild confidence with the racers,” he explained. “There are benefits from our association we feel strongly about, such as the ability to validate speed records and the APBA Hall of Champions. A lot of these assets have not been used for some time, and racers who’ve been in the sport for five or six years don’t remember when APBA was running kilo events or other UIM events. Once they see it, we’re confident they’ll see the benefit to it. The people who were around when those assets were being utilized still remember and talk fondly of them.
“That’s just going to take time—there’s no magic switch to flip,” he continued. “We need to earn the respect of the racers and we are perfectly comfortable with that. We have some racing established in 2010 and we will have an attractive program run by Powerboat P1 in 2011. I want SBI, I want OPA, I want OSS, but I respect where they are right now. We’re not trying to ram anything down anyone’s throat. For offshore racing to succeed, they all have to be successful.”