The 33rd Annual Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix Festival returns June 24-July 4 to the historic venue, and according to the organizers there are several noteworthy changes on tap for event. Most notably, this year’s Grand Prix race will air on Fox Sports and Comcast Regional Sports Networks—with the addition of national broadcaster Eleven Sports. Eleven Sports boasts a reach to more 60 Million homes within the United States, according to a press release from the organizers.
With no conflicting offshore races scheduled for July 4 holiday weekend, organizers of the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix are expecting a larger fleet of full-size catamarans and V-bottoms to compete in this year’s event. Photo courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
“This year there are no competing races on the calendar near the Festival resulting in an increase of large powerboats expected to compete,” said Lucy Nicandri, the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix Festival director, in the release. “The number of boats pre-registered to compete in the 750 Super Cat Class alone has significantly increased, which should heat up the competition out on the water for race fans. The spectator line for boaters has also been moved closer for better viewing.”
“The Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix includes three different platforms of marine motorsport—P1 SuperStock, P1 AquaX (personal watecraft) as well as the larger offshore powerboats,” said Azam Rangoonwala, the director of Powerboat P1, in the release. “This event is one of the most highly attended powerboat races in the world and this has elevated the level of racing, participation and sponsorships.”
Other changes and new events during the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix this year include a Grand Prix Comedy Night at McCurdy’s Comedy Theatre, a venue change for the Festival Kickoff Party to Michael’s on the Bay at Selby Gardens and a “Grand Prix Fan Fest” on July 1 & 2 in the Van Wezel parking lot. The Fan Fest is free to the public and will feature large interactive displays from sponsors, a large tent where guests can watch the boats launch and watch the races live, music, food, plenty of vendors, and a chance to meet the teams up close in the dry pit area.”
Last year’s Festival, which benefits the nonprofit Suncoast Charities For Children organization, reportedly generated an economic impact of $37 million and 18,300 hotel room nights. During the past five years, documented economic impact reports total $116 million for the local area, according to the release.