The Key West Board of Commissioners, along with Mayor Teri Johnston, unanimously and officially approved Race World Offshore (RWO) as the sanctioning body to run the World Championships in Key West, ending the longtime regime of Super Boat International (SBI), whose contract with the city ended last year.
RWO President Larry Bleil did not try to hide his enthusiasm at the news, telling Powerboat Nation he was “ecstatic” by the news.
“We’ve been working very, very hard on this for a long time,” Bleil said. “I’ve been involved with Key West for such a long time, and now we can make this race the spectacle that it needs to be, getting it back to the glory days of the past and moving forward. We’re committed to that.”
Bleil additionally revealed to Powerboat Nation that RWO has also secured approval to mount this year’s offshore race in Clearwater, FL.
Along with Bleil himself, several business associates and racers attended the meeting to speak in favor of RWO. “There were even a couple of people I had no idea were going to be there,” Bleil said. “It’s fabulous. I’m really excited. But now the work really begins.”
RWO and SBI, along with Powerboat P1/Offshore Powerboat Association (OPA), had all submitted proposals to land the new contract. In March, each groups proposals were ranked and rated by a panel hired by Key West to grade them and determine which plan would best benefit the city. The RWO proposal scored best, and the panel made a recommendation to the city to hand the contract to that group.
On Tuesday evening, that recommendation won the board’s seal of approval.
As former president of the Conch Republic Offshore Powerboat Racing Association for 10 years, Bleil brings a special set of credentials to RWO and in overseeing the Key West race. RWO decided to step up to the plate because the Key West event had become “stagnant for years and years,” he said. “It just time for a change.”
As of Tuesday, May 7, SBI continued to list the Clearwater and Key West dates on its official website.