Race World Offshore (RWO), the offshore powerboat sanctioning body that formed in 2017, is preparing to expand its racing season in 2020, according to RWO President and founder Larry Bleil.
The organization held its inaugural race season in 2018 with a modest lineup, including races in Mentor, OH, and Dunkirk, NY. For 2019, RWO dropped the Mentor race but picked up two events in Florida: the Clearwater and Key West competitions formerly run by Superboat International. The Key West World Championships recently wrapped up its week-long extravaganza in the country’s Southernmost city to rave reviews from fans and racers alike.
Now Bliel—the former president of the Conch Republic Offshore Powerboat Racing Association for 10 years—is plotting to grow the RWO series in 2020. “I’m working on two new sites, and we’re going to change our Dunkirk dates,” Bliel told Powerboat Nation. “We’re working with Orange Beach, AL, on an event toward the end of April, and a race on Lake Lanier in Atlanta, GA. In Orange Beach, they’re just meeting with the Tourist Development Council next week. Meanwhile, we’ve applied for the Army Corps permit in Lake Lanier, so after it’s approved, we can move forward.”
Dunkirk’s new dates will largely depend on the dates of the new events, he said; the 2019 event was held Aug. 16-18. Dates for the Hooters Clearwater Offshore Nationals will be Sept. 25-27, while next year’s Key West World Championships will run Nov. 8-15.
“We’d like to do five or six races next year,” Bliel said. “Orange Beach has been raced before, and we’d like to do another on a lake that has never been raced on.”
Bliel said the recent Key West World Championships went off even better than he had anticipated. “I had a vision of changing things up, and making Key West the World Championship that it should be,” he said. “We added concerts during the week. We added a VIP experience that had not been at any other race anywhere. We brought in a shuttle to take people to the VIP area. I was able to implement all of these ideas that I’d come up with over the years, and got nothing but compliments from the people who were there. At the awards ceremony, the racers stood up and applauded the RWO staff. I was really humbled by all the people who came up to me and said this was the best year they’ve ever had in Key West.”