Led by Larry Bleil, the president of the Conch Republic Offshore Powerboat Racing Association based in Key West, Fla., a new offshore powerboat racing series called Race World Offshore is being developed for 2018. The news was announced in a press release from the organization, which according to the release will run under American Power Boat Association-sanctioning umbrella. (APBA is the domestic arm of the Union Internationale Motonautique, powerboat racing’s international sanctioning body.)
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“It’s time that we return offshore powerboat racing to the excitement, pageantry and glory days of the past and to operate the series in the same professional safe manner as the mainstream motorsports of NASCAR, F1 and Indy Car,” said Bleil in the release. “Our initial plan is to offer seven events at venues located within large population areas, including two races in our home town of Key West.”
Pending approval from the U.S. Navy, the Race World Offshore 2018 series-opener will kick off in Key West, according to the release. Additional race venues will include locations in Florida and the Southeast, as well as a three-month “series within the series” called the Great Lakes Offshore Championship.
The release stated that racer and fan safety will be the top priority for the new organization, which “will feature enhanced course designs, all-canopied boats, simplified and appropriate class structures for each venue and a full contingent of trained marine safety crews, paramedics and airlift capabilities.”
According to a source familiar with the matter, Bleil and other members of the Conch Republic organization had been negotiating with John and Deana Carbonell for the purchase of Super Boat International for the past few years. But the principals involved could not reach an agreement.
“Larry Bleil is the man who, for the last 15 years, has been the real organizer of the Key West Race,” the source, who spoke on the agreement that his named would be withheld, stated. “Larry negotiated with the city, Navy, tourism boards, hotels and the Chamber of Commerce. I don't how this will play out, but I do know Larry has a ton of credibility in Key West which is the most important venue to the sport in the world.”
Representatives from SBI had not responded to speedonthewater.com's request for comment before this story went live.
According to the release, the Race World Offshore series will have television coverage featuring “flag-to-flag coverage of the races and back stories on the teams and the technology that make up today’s professional offshore racing,” as well as live-streaming of all events online.