After Hurricane Ian devastated Southwest Florida last fall, many members of the offshore racing community stepped up in an amazing display of service to those in need. Dubbed the “Offshore Army,” this group donated supplies, food, water, encouragement and elbow grease to that region in a broad swath emanating from “Ground Zero,” meaning Fort Myers Beach.
By donating a custom bicycle for the live auction, Micheal Stancombe, captured here with his girlfriend, Julie Lahr, even contributed to the Hurricane Ian fundraising efforts during the Speed On The Water Key West Bash last November. Photo by Jeff Helmkamp copyright Helmkamp Photography.
American Power Boat Association members such as Chris Grant, the Canada-based owner of the Super Cat-class Graydel team donated 40,000 square feet of plywood. M CON team owner Tyler Miller sent truckloads of pallets of water from Kansas. Shaun Torrente, his crew and his sponsor. CMR Roofing and Construction, were also on the scene almost immediately aiding those in distress and helping raise $105,000 for charity—more than $40,000 of which went to Hurricane Ian relief—during the ninth annual Speed On The Key West Bash during the Race World Offshore-produced Union Internationale Motonautique World Championships last November.
Those combined efforts and more gave not only needed resources and relief, but brought a sense of hope to many in the communities. There was enough encouragement to motivate the race committee in Englewood Beach to schedule and execute their World Championship event despite incredible obstacles only a few short weeks after the storm, even as rebuilding and recovery efforts were in full swing around them.
At the heart of this effort and providing his own brand of energetic—and often frenetic—leadership was Micheal Stancombe of the JBS Racing and Team Woody outfits. Not only did Stancombe act decisively in the moment, his nonstop dedication to helping rebuild the Southwest Florida community continued for many weeks after the storm’s immediate aftermath. And he still remains dedicated to fundraising and other activities directed toward alleviating the long-term effect of the devastating event.
Micheal Stancombe has helped Team Woody (right in Jeff Helmkamp’s photo from the 2022 Lake Race in Missouri) make an impact in the sport during the last few seasons.
In honor of these efforts, APBA Offshore awarded Stancombe with its 2022 Sportsman of the Year award. Micheal accepted this on behalf of himself and the dozens of boat racers and other APBA members who worked side by side with him.
As I said when I presented this honor during the annual APBA Awards Banquet in Seattle, Stancombe is real boat racer. That is my highest compliment because real boat racers work not only to race themselves, but look out for the greater good of the sport itself and humanity in general—unselfishly and with a “can-do” attitude.
In addition to running with Team Woody, Micheal Stancombe joined Jeff Stevenson in the Class 1 JBS Racing MTI catamaran during the 2022 season. Photo by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
“While I know a lot of folks who race boats, not all of them are ‘real’ boat racers,” I said when I presented the award. “Micheal and his ‘Offshore Army’ have all earned that title with their amazing generosity and impact.”
And the APBA members on hand responded with a well-deserved standing ovation.
Editor’s note: Rich Luhrs is the commissioner of the APBA Offshore racing category.
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