Thunder On Cocoa Beach Prepares For Powerboat Racing Season Opener
The six-venue 2021 APBA Offshore Championship will get underway next month (May 20-23) at Cocoa Beach on the Atlantic Coast when one of the largest and most popular attractions in Central Florida returns after the disappointment of last year. “With the Covid-19 protocols put forward by local authorities, we were able to put together a plan that was accepted by everyone involved,” explained Race Director Kerry Bartlett. “As always, we want to have the safest and most fan-friendly race event on the circuit.”
“It has been a long wait and we are counting down the days to APBA offshore racing getting back into action,” said Azam Rangoonwala, the CEO of race promoter Powerboat P1. “There couldn’t be a better way to kick off the new season than with Thunder On Cocoa Beach.” Tourist Development Council Chairman and local hotelier, Tom Hermansen, shared his enthusiasm stating: “The tourism community couldn’t be more excited to welcome back Thunder On Cocoa Beach. This fantastic event – popular with locals and visitors alike—is the perfect way to kick off the Summer season after a very challenging year.”
An added attraction this year will be to watch action sports legend and stunt performer, Travis Pastrana sharing the cockpit of the 47’ Miss GEICO Victory Catamaran with world champion throttleman Steve Curtis. All the race teams will be on display at the race village located on Flounder Drive and festivities leading up to race day include a Kickoff Party, Downtown Block Party and VIP “Meet the Racers” event.
In 2019 it was estimated that the event brought in nearly $12 Million to the Space Coast with an attendance of more than100,000. President of the Cocoa Beach Hotel and Lodging Association, Tom Williamson, added: “Thunder on Cocoa Beach is a classic example of an event with small beginnings that has grown into an anchor event over the past ten years. It garners publicity and name recognition for the Cocoa Beach and Space Coast brands, regionally, nationally, and for the past several years, internationally.”
The official charity partner for Thunder on Cocoa Beach is ‘Freedom Fighter’ which will receive a share of all VIP ticket and merchandise sales. This partnership is led by Jenny Pruett, a local business owner and wife of business director and racer Kevin Pruett. The Freedom Fighter organization supports activities that focus on the abolishment of human trafficking locally and throughout the world. “We certainly have heard a lot in the news lately on human trafficking and Central Florida is a big area for it. We wanted a charity partner that was going to make an impact locally and also one that would provide volunteer support for the event,” Bartlett said.
This year, P1 AquaX personal watercraft racing has been added to the schedule on Saturday between 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., with the powerboats in action on Sunday starting at 10 a.m. Best spectator viewing areas include Minuteman Causeway, Lori Wilson Park, and Cocoa Beach Pier. To purchase a VIP race viewing ticket and for more information about the Space Coast Grand Prix visit: thunderoncocoabeach.com.
2021 APBA Offshore Championship Race Calendar:
Despite international travel restrictions preventing some race teams from attending, around 50 boats and 45 personal watercraft riders are expected to compete. The course will be a 7-mile lap running from Cocoa Beach Pier to Coconuts restaurants.