Power boats getting ready to roar offshore off Fort Myers Beach
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 more than 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.”
One participant that has over 40 years in the sport, Johnny Stanch, said this event is decades in the making.
“In my 40 years we haven’t had this many boats race in the national championship,” Stanch said of the 70 boats expected to compete. “It should be really exciting.”
Stanch, a New Jersey native, has a modest 19 world championship titles to his name, and is the throttleman for “Strictly Business,” a Class 3 vessel owned by Louie Giancontieri, who drives.
Strictly Business is a 35-foot boat with a twin Mercury 525 EFI.
Stanch said the sport is in his blood, and events like Roar Offshore keep him coming back for more, along with his love of the sport.
He’s revved up for what he calls an historic event, just as the boat engines will be come race day.
“This will be the most exciting race in a long, long time,” Stanch said. “You can see five to six of the fastest boats in the world side-by-side at 150 mph. Everybody is coming for the national championship; it’s going to be tight, but we’re going for it.”
Stanch praised the organizers for putting together such a high-class event that is drawing racers and boats from across the globe to compete.
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.
“Super Stock,” “Super Vee Extreme” and “Pro Stock Vee” will race at 11:30. “Super Cat” will race at 12:30 and “Class One” and “Vee Extreme” at 2.
One racer making waves in the Super Stock series — the largest group of vessels in any class — is Myrick Coil. This is the first time Coil has ventured into the Super Stock class.
Coil, the throttleman, and driver Rusty Williams, are leading the pack heading into championship day.
You can see them compete in Performance Boat Center / Auto Alert #S-21, a Wright Performance 32-foot boat sporting a Mercury Racing 300xs engine.
Coil also competes in the Super Cat class as a driver alongside throttleman Johnny Tomlinson, racing Performance Boat Center / Jimmy Johns #21. This 43- foot boat packs 750 horsepower racing engines.
Coil remembers racing on the beach the last time an event was held in sunny Southwest Florida, and is excited to get back.
“It’s the national championship, the biggest event of the year, it’s exciting,” Coil said. “On race day, it all comes to a head and we’ll determine what happens, there’s pressure.”
Coil is working on modifications to his boat to make it the quickest out there when all the marbles are on the line.
“I’m going to try and go for it,” Coil said. “I’m looking forward to coming out and seeing all of the fans on the Beach and putting on a great show.”
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.
Super Cat is also a canopied catamaran powered by twin inboard 750 engines, with top speed at approximately 140 mph.
The Super Stock 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 streamed 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.
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