Worldwide powerboat race sanctioning body P1 Superstock—which collaborated with OPA on the APBA Offshore Championship last year—is still planning on some version of the series when the season eventually begins. It’s still anybody’s guess when that might be, since the original kickoff dates of May 14-17 were postponed to Aug. 27-30 due to the global pandemic known as COVID-19.
Last year, the championship comprised six races, including Cocoa Beach, Lake Ozark, Sarasota, St. Clair, Michigan City and Fort Myers. The marine industry, like the rest of the world, has been taking a “wait and see” approach before life resumes a sense of normality. P1 Chief Executive Azam Rangoonwala told Powerboat Nation that the organization is committed to the APBA Offshore Championship and believes in the legacy of the APBA.
“The key is working together with all parties in the sport and giving the teams and spectators a solid series to race within,” he said. “At this stage, it is a global championship with international competitors such as Victory Team from Dubai and the Australian team, 222 Offshore. We will stage what we can in 2020, and P1 is committed to continuing to run offshore powerboat racing in 2021 and beyond.”
In addition to the APBA series, P1 SuperStock also has its own class racing around the world, including the USA. Last year, several Panther models were fitted with new carbon hulls a year ago, repowered with the new Mercury Racing 4.6L V-8 four-stroke 300R outboards. P1 then unveiled plans to revolutionize the championship and attract a new set of racers by converting the Panther to a canopy race boat. Four of these boats have been fitted with new canopies and the 300R engine from Mercury Racing thus far. They have been upgraded by Wilson Custom Composites in Fort Pierce on Florida’s Atlantic Coast, whose owner, Craig Wilson, has almost 20 years of powerboat racing experience. Sam Coleman and Daisy Coleman of Wales—the 2017 World Champions from the race event in Mumbai—campaigned the GEICO P1 SuperStock entry.
When the 2020 season eventually begins, P1 hopes to see the GEICO and Visit St. Pete/Clearwater (VSPC) boats return to the course, and Rangoonwala said that new teams would be racing them.
“Prior to COVID-19, we were planning to produce a further two boats, but it looks like this will now be for 2021,” he said. “We want to keep building the fleet up to six boats.”
The boats can race in all of the APBA Offshore Championship events that go ahead this year, plus St. Pete Beach.
“We mostly usually receive enquiries from people interested in getting into the sport who have not raced before,” Rangoonwala said, adding that P1 plans to race them within the Class 5 national championship.