On March 20, authorities in Port Canaveral, Fla., “suspended the use of indoor and outdoor spaces”—a portion of which were slated to be used during 2020 American Power Boat Association Offshore Champion Series season-opener May 14-17 in Cocoa Beach—until May 1. The move was made by the Canaveral Port Authority in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Like every event in last year’s inaugural APBA series, the season-opening Thunder On Cocoa Beach contest drew a record-setting turnout and more than doubled its 2018 boat count. Photos courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
Though neither Port Canaveral’s public launch ramps nor the beaches of Brevard County are currently closed, the Jetty Park area surround the Exploration Center is shut down to the public.The expansive space serves as the dry pits when race teams come to town. What’s more, Brevard County is following the Center for Disease Controls novel coronavirus guidelines for social distancing.
That puts Thunder On Cocoa Beach organizers, who enjoyed a record-setting 59-boat fleet in 2018, in wait-and-see mode.
“Our local race committee continues to closely monitor the situation,” said Kerry Bartlett, the race chairman of the Thunder on Cocoa Beach event. “We have decided to make a final decision on May 1, based upon information provided by port authorities and CDC guidelines as they pertain to large gatherings and outdoor events.
“We continue to remain optimistic that our race will continue as scheduled,” he added.
Jetty Park is one of the key logistical areas for the event. (Photo from Thunder On Cocoa Beach 2015.)
Bartlett is one of six race site promoters in the 2020 APBA Offshore Championship Series. The promoters meet monthly as a group to share challenges and find unified ideas for their venues.
“During these uncertain times we need to be there to support each another and the entire racing community more than ever,” said Lucy Nicandri and Mike Shepherd, who co-chair the group, in a joint press release.