Of the six venues in the American Power Boat Association Offshore National Championship Series, Cocoa Beach, Fla., May 20-23, is a lock to have the roughest water. That’s something veteran offshore racers know, but AquaX Series personal watercraft racers will discover this year on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., the day before the main event, which organizers expect to attract 50-plus raceboats across multiple classes.
Next month’s Thunder On Cocoa Beach event will kick off the second-year APBA Offshore National Championship Series. Photo by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thril Pix.
The AquaX Series is produced by Powerboat P1/P1 Offshore, which is once again partnering with the Offshore Powerboat Association to produce event, the first of six on the APBA Offshore circuit series. Azam Rangoonwala, the chief executive officer of the United Kingdom-based P1 group, was delighted to be able to add personal racing to the already activity-filled weekend, which begins Thursday evening with Downtown Block Party and VIP “Meet the Racers” happening.
“It has been a long wait and we are counting down the days to APBA offshore racing getting back into action,” he said in a press release this afternoon from the organization. “There couldn’t be a better way to kick off the new season than with Thunder On Cocoa Beach.”
While personal watercraft competition is a new addition to the 11th annual Thunder On Cocoa Beach event, it’s official charity partner dubbed I Am A Freedom Fighter is not. The locally based, anti-human-trafficking organization is spearhead by Jenny Pruett, the wife of offshore racer Kevin Pruett, who has worked closely with Cocoa Beach race director Kerry Bartlett in recent years.
“We certainly have heard a lot in the news lately on human trafficking and Central Florida is a big area for it,” said Bartlett. “We wanted a charity partner that was going to make an impact locally and also one that would provide volunteer support for the event.”
According to the press release, Thunder On Cocoa Beach brought in an estimated $12 million to the area in 2019. With the event cancelled last year for pandemic concerns, local community leaders are eager to see it return.
“Thunder on Cocoa Beach is a classic example of an event with small beginnings that has grown into an anchor event over the past ten years,” said Tom Williamson, the president of the Cocoa Beach Hotel and Lodging Association. “It garners publicity and name recognition for the Cocoa Beach and Space Coast brands, regionally, nationally, and for the past several years, internationally.”
Added Bartlett, “With the Covid-19 protocols put forward by local authorities, we were able to put together a plan that was accepted by everyone involved. As always, we want to have the safest and most fan-friendly race event on the circuit.”