Race World Offshore (RWO), the offshore powerboat sanctioning body formed in 2017, is one step closer to staging a season-ending World Championship race in Key West for the next five years, according to RWO President Larry Bleil.
“We’re 90 percent there,” Bleil told Powerboat Nation. “The city has a system where they grade you on things like what you plan to do in the future and what’s best for the city. We scored better than the rest of the field. The City Council just needs to make it official with a final vote to accept the commission’s recommendations when they meet in early May.”
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. We want to make it the spectacle that it should be. Everybody wants to come to Key West; everybody wants to win and be the World Champion. And we want to get it back to that. We’ve got to make it a World Championship. We’ve got to have the celebrities involved. I can remember having 120 boats in Key West to race, and now they’re fighting to get 40. It needs a new energy.”
RWO’s bid would end Super Boat International‘s longtime engagement holding its Offshore World Finals in Key West. The Offshore Powerboat Association (OPA) had also put in a bid for Key West, but RWO won out over the competition. “SBI was not bringing anything to the table,” Bleil said. “The race teams, fans and community are going to be delighted to have RWO running the show in a very upbeat and proactive manner,” he added.
RWO vowed to provide further details in the days ahead about the organization’s 2019 race schedule and its plans for Key West. Last year, RWO staged two races: the Roar Off the Shore (Mentor, OH, July 20-22) and the Dunkirk Great Lakes Offshore Grand Prix (Dunkirk, NY, Aug. 17-19). The Mentor event will not happen in 2019, but RWO has already announced that it will hold the race in Dunkirk and at least one other race that Bleil is currently attempting to organize.
As of Monday, March 25, SBI still had Nov. 3-10, 2019, listed on its website as the dates for the 39th Annual Key West World Championships.