Earlier this evening, the seven-member Key West City Commission voted unanimously to approve awarding the five-year race promoter contract for November offshore races to Race World Offshore in Florida’s southernmost city. Competing against Super Boat International, the outfit that produced the annual Key West contests for the past five years and the Offshore Powerboat Association and Powerboat P1, which have banded together to produce the new American Power Boat Association Offshore Championship Series, Race World Offshore earned the highest score in the city’s Request For Proposal bidding process last month.
Before finishing its 2019 season in Key West, Race World Offshore will produce events in Dunkirk, N.Y., and Clearwater, Fla. Photo from the 2018 RWO Mentor race courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
But the recommendation was not an official decision until the Key West City Commission voted to approve the ranking committee’s recommendation during tonight’s meeting.
“This whole process has taken so long and it spilled over into the second quarter of 2019,” said Larry Bleil, the Key WWest-based founder of RWO, in a press release. “I am so happy it is over so we can get on with things. And now, we can finally roll out our plans and talk about this season.”
According to the release, Race World Offshore has been “working behind the scenes” to be officially recognized as an APBA sanctioning body and “has successfully been granted that status.” But while Key West will cap off the 2019 RWO season, the organization has two other races on its schedule this year.
The first RWO/APBA National Offshore Powerboat race will be Aug. 16-18 in Dunkirk, N.Y. The organization held its first event at the Lake Erie venue year.
While the Dunkirk race come as no surprise to anyone as it has been on the organization’s schedule for months, RWO’s second race in Clearwater, Fla., Sept. 27-29 is a significant and a largely unexpected announcement. From the outset, Clearwater event organizer Frank Chivas had insisted that his race be listed TBD (“To Be Determined”) on the APBA Offshore Championship Series schedule—and it was. But Chivas confirmed his commitment to the RWO schedule via text message this evening and the RWO race will mark the 11th anniversary of offshore racing in Clearwater.
Clearly suprised by the Clearwater announcement, Powerboat P1 head Azam Rangoonwala, who along with OPA president Ed “Smitty “ Smith had anticipated having Clearwater officially on the APBA Championship Series schedule, had no official comment when this story went live. Rangoonwala said he would address the Clearwater decision within the next 24 to 36 hours.
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According to the press release, RWO will use Truman Waterfront Park Amphitheater for its opening and closing ceremonies, concerts and special events during the Key West race week Nov. 3-10. Festivities will begin Sunday with the annual “World’s Fastest Boats Parade” on Duval Street. Following opening ceremonies on Tuesday, Nov. 5 races are set for Wednesday, Friday and Sunday—a familiar format to offshore racing fans.
“Based on the cruise ship schedule, the races will be similar to previous years, with three days of racing and points will be accumulated to secure a World Title, the release stated. “However, there will be notable awards for each of the three days of racing: Truman Waterfront Cup, Southernmost Continental Champion and World Champion respectively. There will be many other details to follow, but it is also important to note that all other sanctioning bodies and their classes of boats are welcome to participate with reduced prices for the 2019 season.”
Race World Offshore will provide online sign-up and fee schedules for its 2019 season on or before May 15. Team teams racing in RWO-produced events must be current APBA Racing Members.