Three Offshore Racing Organizations Agree On Unified World Championship In Key West
by: Carolina Bustamante,
Photo by courtesy of Florida Keys
(Jul. 08, 2004 - KEY WEST, Florida Keys)
Three different U.S. offshore powerboat racing organizations have agreed to stage a unified, season-ending world championship in Key West, officials said Wednesday.
The announcement to combine entries from Super Boat International Productions, American Power Boat Association Offshore Racing and the Offshore Super Series Nov. 14-21 comes after nine consecutive years of different racing organizations staging competing world championships.
The confusion has had offshore racing fans, corporate sponsors and even some competitors wondering where each year's true world championship was being held.
"There will only be one world championship powerboat race in 2004," said John Carbonell, president of SBIP and the producer of the Key West World Championship. "There will be only one world champion in each class."
The agreement for a combined event came after months of negotiations.
"We have come to an understanding that somebody has to do something good for the sport," said Bob Bull, chairman of APBA Offshore. "We need to try to get things back on track like they were at one time."
For years, APBA was the lead sanctioning body for professional offshore powerboat racing in the U.S., but in 1989 a group of disgruntled racers, led by actor/racer Don Johnson, separated and created a new organization called the Offshore Professional Tour. Since then, several other organizations have formed and faded away. In 1994 and 1995, APBA and SBI staged combined world championships in Key West, but have raced separately since.
OSS was created last year, after many of its members separated from APBA and had their own world championship in Key West.
"Our teams are excited about racing boats (that will be) coming together from other circuits," said Elaine Motl, chief executive officer for OSS.
Indeed, the racers seem most pleased with the decision to get back together.
"I'm tired of explaining to people 'that's a world title for APBA or that's a title for SBI,'" said John Tomlinson, a Miami throttleman for Bacardi Silver, who has won six APBA world titles and four SBI world championships. "This year, it'll be nice to have everyone under one roof."
Tomlinson said the union of the organizations should result in a large fleet for Key West.
"Fans want a bunch of boats racing at the same time," Tomlinson said. "I imagined we'll see at least a hundred boats in Key West in November."