The offshore World Championship races in Key West have been canceled due to concerns about the worldwide pandemic.
The event, which is produced by Larry Bleil’s Race World Offshore organization, had been on the schedule for Nov. 8-15. It was to be the second year RWO staged the event in Key West, after being produced for many years by Super Boat International.
Bleil told Speedboat that after meeting with the City Manager this morning, a decision was made to put off the races until next year, making it the latest powerboating event to be thwarted by the pandemic. Currently, only RWO’s race in Clearwater, FL, remains on the books; it is scheduled for Sept. 25-27.
“The City Council is meeting tonight, but it’s just not going to pass. They want to stop all events in Monroe County through the first of the year,” Bleil said. “So I just said, well, just close it down.”
It was a heartbreaking decision for Bleil, whose hometown is Key West.
“I worked so hard for a long time to get this event, and I finally got it last year,” he told Speedboat. “But we put a lot of work into it and had a great race in 2019. And then this year, we got beat up by this pandemic.”
Still, there’s a glimmer of hope that maybe the races can be staged in another locale—specifically the Lake of the Ozarks, which has consistently and successfully put on numerous events during the summer and which is expected to have a record-breaking Shootout and Poker Run later this month. “There are some discussions about it,” Bleil revealed, saying that nothing has progressed beyond the talking stage. “but it’s still possible.”
For the time being, Bleil is focusing on the 2021 races. “This is just going to give me more time to make the event bigger and better,” he said. “We’ll have a lot of new sponsors and people coming on board with us next year, so I’m excited about that.”