ENGLEWOOD BEACH – The Offshore Powerboat Association World Championships returns to Englewood Beach, as part of Englewood Beach Waterfest, slated for Nov. 18-21.
In 2019, the last time Englewood hosted that race – which is scheduled for Nov. 20-21 – it featured more than 70 boats and had become the largest race on the circuit.
The race can attract up to 40,000 people, with more than a half-million people in the Midwest watching on livestream.
Steve Gardiner, president of the Englewood Beach Waterfest Inc. board of directors, has previously said that translated into an $8 million impact on the local economy.
NMB RV Resort and Dry Dock Marina, based in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is the keystone sponsor.
“They've signed on to be our primary sponsors for this year and for next and they also have a boat racing, Gardiner said. “They’re in it with both feet up to their hips.”
The resort is both seeking to draw people to South Carolina and contemplating expanding into Florida, Gardiner said.
After a slow start with local sponsors, those have picked up, too. “This is the best year we’ve had for sponsorships, ever,” Gardiner said.
The nonprofit Englewood Beach Waterfest also distributes money to other area nonprofits.
In 2019, it gave $7,500 to six different local nonprofits.
More than 60 boats – including between four and six entries in the unlimited super boat class – have expressed interest in racing. More than 70 are anticipated to show up on race weekend.
That field will likely be affected by what happens in Key West, Nov. 7-14, at the Race World Offshore World Championships. If a boat wrecks or develops problems then, there’s not enough time to recover and be ready for Englewood Beach.
Some racers may opt out of Key West because of cost.
“We were told by some of the racers that they’re not going to go to Key West because its’ expensive to race there with hotel prices, so they’re skipping it,” Gardiner said.
Tickets for Waterfest are $20 online at www.englewoodbeachwaterfest.com or $25 at the gate, and include parking and bus transportation to Englewood Beach, where parking is always limited.
Children 12 and younger are free but do need a children’s ticket.
Online ticket sales end at 5 p.m., Friday, Nov. 19.
VIP passes of $100 for one day or $150 for both days include parking and transportation as well as a VIP tent and complimentary food, mixed drinks, beer and wine.
Busses run from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. There are two distinct routes. The red route bus starts at the Elks Lodge, then travels to Englewood Shopping Center by Obee’s and the SunTrust Bank to the beach.
The green route travels from Lemon Bay High School to Beach Road Bistro and then the beach.
There are no coolers, alcohol or pets permitted on the buses or at the beach.
Gardiner noted that there are still spaces available for food trucks at the beach, and Sunday volunteers are also needed.
Volunteers typically meet Nov. 17 at the Elks Lodge for an orientation and to receive a T-shirt. Volunteers and vendors can sign up and learn more on the web site.
For more information on either, call 941-473-9795 or email email@example.com.
Events include a Pre-Race Party, PowerUp from 5 to 10 p.m., Nov. 18; and the Waterfest Block Party from 5 to 9 a.m., Nov. 19 at Englewood Shopping Center, 262 S. Indiana Ave., Englewood.
The shopping center is standing in for Dearborn Street as the Block Party location this year, while Dearborn Avenue is under construction.
“We can probably get 50 to 60 boats in there,” Gardiner said, then added that Waterfest has rented generators and lights, to illuminate the parking lot.
Between 11 and 14 classes of boats will race both Nov. 20 and 21. Races start at 10 a.m., while gates open a 9 a.m.
Waterfest Village on Englewood Beach will be open Friday, as well as all day Saturday and Sunday.
Mote Marine Laboratory will have six exhibits at the village, while others will be from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Friends of Stump Pass, Josh the Otter and the Lemon Bay Conservancy and the Peace River Wildlife Center with Luna the Owl.
Other children’s activities include face painting, a butterfly encounter, sand art and a scavenger hunt.
As for the races, as many as four different boat classes may be on the 4.3-mile offshore course at one time.
“We re-did the race course this year to bring it in,” Gardine said. “So, it’s really out in front of Englewood Beach.”
Earle Kimel primarily covers south Sarasota County for the Herald-Tribune and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Support local journalism with a digital subscription to the Herald-Tribune.
Source : https://www.heraldtribune.com/story/news/2021/11/08/offshore-powerboats-return-englewood-beach-waterfest/6295482001/1375