The latest casualties of the COVID-19 pandemic as it affects the offshore racing world, the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix in Florida and the St. Clair River Classic in Michigan are officially off the 2020 American Power Boat Association Offshore Championships Series schedule. The event organizers announced their decisions to cancel in a press release this morning.
The Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix will return in 2021 as the third race of the APBA Series. Photos by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix/speedonthewater.com.
“In an effort to protect the integrity of our race site and show respect to our sponsors, coupled with continued concerns surrounding managing proper social distancing and safety, we felt it would be in the best interest of everyone to postpone until next year,” said Lucy Nicandri, the executive director for Suncoast Charities for Children—the local nonprofit that has produced the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix Festival for 35 years—in the release.
Visit Sarasota is the presenting sponsor for the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix. Said Shelby Connett, the director of sports for the organization, “We fully support the decision made by Suncoast Charities for Children and agree that the safety of participants and fans always comes first. Sports tourism revenues, generated from large events like the Grand Prix, are extremely important. However, we understand the necessity for organizers to postpone not only for safety reasons, but also to ensure their ability to continue producing high-quality events in our community for years to come.”
Safety also was at the forefront of the decision to cancel the Michigan event, according to its organizers.
“Keeping the health and safety of spectators, participants, officials and our community is first and foremost in our planning efforts,” said Steve Brunner, president of Blue Water Offshore Racing Association in St. Clair.
The St. Clair River Classic will return in 2021 as the fourth race of the APBA Series.
Added race control director Bob Currier, “This difficult decision follows guidance for the health and safety of our event from the CDC and Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services.”
Both races are slated to return in 2021. The Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix is scheduled for June 25-27. The St. Clair River Classic is set for July 25-27.
With today’s cancellations, the APBA Series has just three of six races—Cocoa Beach, Fla., Lake of the Ozarks, Mo., and Fort Myers Beach— remaining on its original 2020 schedule. All of those races, as well as those on the Offshore Powerboat Association and Race World Offshore rosters, are APBA-sanctioned. Teams that compete in them can accrue points toward APBA National Championships in various classes.
2021 APBA Offshore National Championship Race Schedule
• May 20-23—Cocoa Beach, Fla.
• June 3-5—Lake of the Ozarks, Mo.
• June 25-27—Sarasota, Fla.
• July 22-25—St. Clair, Mich.
• August 5-8—Michigan City, Ind.
• October 7-9—Fort Myers Beach, Fla.