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Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix Expecting 60- To 70-Boat Fleet

The third stop in the American Power Boat Association Offshore Championship Series, the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix set for July 7 will see its biggest turnout in decades. Based on race-team signups for a Friday night event, a race team entry form supplied by Powerboat P1 group, which is co-producing the six-race APBA circuit with the Offshore Powerboat Association, and discussions with representatives from various racing classes, organizer Lucy Nicandri said she is expecting “upward of 70 boats.”

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A little more than a week away, the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix will host its largest fleet in many years. Photo from the 2016 Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.

“I believe that Thunder On Cocoa Beach, the season-opener for the APBA series, had 60 boats, and based on the information I’ve collected to so far it looks like we are going to have every bit of that and more,” said Nicandri, who also is the executive director of Suncoast Charities For Children, the longtime beneficiary of annual weeklong Sarasota Grand Prix Festival. “We are going into our 35th year. When I started, I was working with organizers Kevin Brown and Gene Whipp. And I haven’t seen numbers like this since the mid 1990s.

“This is a big shift for us,” she continued. “The whole community is excited about it. Plus, we’ve been able to extend our racecourse to the north and south so now the whole beach will be able to see it.”

To properly plan for the amount of space required for Friday evening’s “Boats On The Block” block party and dry pit areas in the Southwest Florida city, Nicandri began reaching out to race teams months ago. At present, 36 teams have signed up to display their hardware in the block party, which will be the biggest such turnout for that element of the festival in many years. The organizers even had to extend the happening’s display area to South Palm Avenue to accommodate participating race teams.

“We have to know in advance, well before the teams arrive, exactly where were are going to put all of them,” said Nicandri. “We just want to be efficient. The P1 entry form we’ve been using for the past few years isn’t a registration form for the race—that’s something else completely. But it helps us plan and helps me know what each team is bringing and how much space they’ll need.”

“A lot goes into planning,” she continued. “I was talking to the Victory team guys last night and they asked if they could be next to Gary Ballough (of the FJ Propeller team) and the Jackhammer team guys as they all run Victory raceboats. For that kind of thing to happen, we need to know in advance.”

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