Commentary: Hey Offshore Racing? Don’t Blow It

Commentary: Hey Offshore Racing? Don’t Blow It

Heading into the 2023 season, spec-class offshore powerboat racing is in its best shape in decades. The Super Cat fleet has 10 teams committed. Super Stock has something in the neighborhood of a dozen teams eager to compete. The Mod V class has mostly absorbed—at last—the Stock V class and now the category has critical mass. All but extinct until 2019, Class 1 has eight teams lined up this year.

The Super Cat class is robust this season. Photos by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.

Even the Extreme V category, kept on life-support in recent years by true believer Ed Smith of the Knucklehead Racing team, is in strong comeback mode.

So how come almost everyone I talk to daily in the sport, from competitors to race-site producers, is generally pissed off? I know that outrage has become our national pastime, but it’s something deeper than that.

It’s because both groups are feeling pushed around, especially the team owners who—let’s be clear—fund the entire sport. Without the team owners, there is no offshore racing, much less the sanctioning bodies of the American Power Boat Association or Union Internationale Motonautique. Same goes for race producers such as the Offshore Powerboat Association, Powerboat P1 and Race World Offshore, same goes for local site producers.

No owners, no sport.

A dozen teams are poised for Super Stock competition this season.

So here is my entirely unsolicited advice for all of offshore powerboat racing’s would-be leaders.

To the sanctioning bodies: Tread lightly. Leadership by decree is a tough way to go, especially when your constituency holds all the financial cards. Forgetting that assures your demise. Unity isn’t built by heavy hand.

To the racers and event producers: Be patient. The sanctioning bodies do create value in the form of rule-based legitimacy, consistent standards and structure. History has shown what happens when team owners have total control of the sport—recall the prettied-up debacle better known as the short-lived Offshore Super Series. History also has demonstrated what happens when the sport fractures and you end up with a purely self-serving entity such as Super Boat International in control.

Back from its pre-2019 grave, Class 1 should have eight teams in the mix this year.

To all: Choose your battles because—I promise you—they are not all worth fighting. Exhale for a moment and maybe, just maybe, consider letting small things go. Especially the petty ones.

You are poised for the best offshore racing season in decades. Don’t blow it.

Next up? World peace.

By mostly absorbing the Stock V class, Mod V is looking at big fleets throughout the 2023 season.

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