2022 Key West Offshore Boat Race Championships
IT'S BACK!!!! THE FUN STARTS…….
Sunday, November 6th, running through Sunday, November 13th, Key West is proud to play host to one of most exciting events you will ever experience, the 2022 Race World Offshore Championships.
Last year, the races returned to Key West after a two-year hiatus due to, what else, COVID!! Everyone was ready and it was a festive week full of fun, excitement, and most of all thrilling racing. Crowds were huge, and on race days, lined Sunset Pier, Mallory Square, the Hyatt, and other locales across the harbor.
This eight-day celebration features some of the fastest racing boats in the world, but soooo much more.
As each race approached you could feel the anticipation as folks angled for the best view. You could not only hear the power of the engines, literally, you felt their power. You heard them coming in the distance, then the engines screamed as they passed just 50 to 100 feet off shore as the crowds cheered them on.
On race days, folks started lining up early, getting a good spot to watch. We got a nice spot right on Sunset Pier. By 10 am, the pier was jumping and the practice runs concluded. Now, racing was on.
There are many different race classes, from the Bracket class, through the Super Stock and Super Cat classes, that can reach speeds of 110 to 140 mph. And if you need even more speed, check out the Class 1 races. These bad boys are built for ‘super speed’, racing up to 160 mph.
When any of these racing beauties pass in from of you, you can feel the fillings shaking in your teeth, and your drink vibrating in your hand.
The teams that work these incredible machines have spent years training, studying, testing, and retesting to get their boats ready. One thing that is paramount is the safety of the crew. At these speeds, a split-second miscalculation, a sudden change in wind speed or direction, or the ever-changing water can create havoc.
Last year, there were some tense moments when a boat flipped completely. The crew was inside while the boat floated helplessly upside down in the water. Immediately the emergency boats that line the course were in action and turned what could have been a disastrous event into a lifesaving rescue.
Another challenging factor is the speed these boats are traveling, just skating across the water within feet of each other. One slight miscalculation or sudden change in the water/wind itself can send boats into each other, damaging the boat, and could result in injury (or worse) to the crew.
It is an extremely dangerous sport, but teams like M CON, JBS Racing, FJ Propeller, Illicit Motorsports, and so many others dedicate themselves to this thrilling, and rewarding sport.
Other Events – MORE FUN!!!
For fans, this is a week-long ‘happening’. In addition to the racing, Key West itself puts on quite a show. On day 1, November 6th, they get things started with a boat parade on the world-famous Duval Street. Here, you can get a close-up look at all the racing participants riding on/with their majestic boats greeting the fans and sometimes tossing out a few trinkets as well. It is a can’t-miss event.
Each day/evening there is a scheduled party at a local establishment. For example, on Monday the 7th there is the Smokin’ Tuna Racers Welcome Party; Tuesday the 8th is the Lagerheads Race World Offshore Party; Wednesday, is the Teasers, Pole Position Party. Thursday is…well, you get the picture!!!
Truman Waterfront Park is home to Race World Offshore race village, always a hub of activity. Here you can pick up some great gear and souvenirs. Oh, and the Park’s Amphitheater hosts concerts, on Thursday, and Saturday nights.
If you ever wanted to ride in an offshore powerboat, driven by one of the professional team’s drivers, then get on over to the Sandbar Sports Grill Thursday, November 10th, at 7pm for a live auction, and your chance to take that ride. Proceeds go to local charities. This would be the thrill of a lifetime, and the pics alone would be incredible.
Of course, there are hundreds of other activities that make Key West a special vacation spot every day. Enjoy fishing, kayaking, jet skiing, snorkeling, shopping, and of course, the Key West nightlife with live music across the island at almost every restaurant and bar.
Whew, sounds like one heck of a fun week! Speaking from experience, it is!! For more information about this event, the racing schedule, parties, etc., check out the Racing World Offshore website.
Come visit. Enjoy the racing, the Key West tropical vibe, and have yourself a spectacular week!!!
all photos - credit to RaceWorldOffshore.com