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Offshore races hit the Gulf next weekend

By Staff | Oct 2, 2019

Have a need for speed and a love for the water?

Next weekend, the American Powerboat Association Roar Offshore event returns to Fort Myers Beach after over a decade, where the inaugural APBA six-race series champions will be determined at the event that brings nearly 70,000 to the area.

The Offshore Powerboat Association and Powerboat P1 have joined forces to create the APBA World Offshore Championship series, where more than 50 teams from across the globe have tested their might in five cities, culminating next weekend on the Beach.

The races will also serve as the National Championship for the Offshore Powerboat Association.

“Race teams come from all over the world to compete,” said Tim Hill, Roar Offshore president. “Both visitors and residents can enjoy a number of pre-race parties, and seize the opportunity to see the powerboats up close.”

Race day and all the action that goes along with it happens Saturday, Oct. 12, but Roar Offshore brings a party to the beach all week long.

Events leading up to the big day include kick-off socials, Race Village and a parade over the bridge where spectators can get a good look at the teams and their supercharged vessels.

Races themselves are broken down into 13 individual classes that are separated by length, top speed and engine.

Several boats in different classes may be racing at the same time, but are only competing against those in their class.

Boats will be churning up water out on the beach, where the course challenges teams with eight different turn markers separating the start and finish line.

Scoring is broken down like this:

“Each turn of the race or race buoy has a ‘Turn Boat’ with Race Officials on board keeping track of the racers and their performance, as well as on the Start/Finish boat. As each race boat passes a ‘Turn Boat’ and ‘Start/Finish’ boat, the official marks their sheets according to the rules. When the event is done all times, speeds and distances traveled are calculated to determine the winner.

“An official start time begins when the bow of the boat crosses the start line. The boat is then scored by completed laps/distance. A completed lap is when a boat crosses the start line, and continues around the marks of the course and back to the finish line. The start and finish line are at the same point on the course. When the green flag (start) drops the race begins, but the first completed lap is scored when the boat passes the start/finish and then comes around again to complete the lap.”

Classes 1-7 open the racing Saturday morning at 10 a.m.

“Superstock,” “Super Vee Extreme” and “Pro Stock Vee” will race at 11:30. “Supercat” will race at 12:30 and “Class One” and “Vee Extreme” at 2.

Class One is the premier racing class that attracts teams from all over the world. It is a canopied catamaran class twin inboard 1100 Mercury racing engines, being able to read speeds of up to 160 mph.

A Class One boat to keep an eye out for is Miss GEICO, piloted by driver Miles Jennings and throttleman Steve Curtis.

Miss GEICO is a 47-foot catamaran made of carbon, Kevlar and S-glass for high performance. In preparation for the championships, the vessel is packing a pair of brand new and recently released Mercury sealed 1100 horsepower twin turbo engines, able to reach speeds of more than 160 mph.

Miss GEICO is in search of her 12th world championship crown, though it will be no easy task with all teams vying for the season ending title.

Supercat is also a canopied catamaran powered by twin inboard 750 engines, with top speed at approximately 140 mph.

The Superstock class in a catamaran boat powered by twin stock outboard 300 Mercury racing engines. This is a popular class and considered the one of the most competitive. Average speed for this class is around 100 mph, though can climb up to 115.

The “Vee” series races feature “V” bottom boats with the classes determined by boat length and engine size. Pro Stock Vee and Super Vee Extreme can see speeds up to 95 mph, while Vee Extreme can notch 115-120 mph.

Class 1-7 is a bracket class where boats must stay in a bracketed speed range. Boats in these classes may have single or twin engines. Speeds range from 60-115 mph across the spectrum of classes.

Following the races, an awards ceremony will be held at DiamondHead Beach Resort at 6:30 p.m.

This year’s Roar Offshore will be live streams on Facebook and a post race broadcast on CBS Sports will air Oct. 20 at noon.

“We want to stage events that excite and entertain, ensuring enjoyment for spectators and TV audiences with sponsor value and a real economic impact for the host venues,” said Azam Rangoonwala, Powerboat P1 CEO, in a statement.

– Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj