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Powerboat races bring fun and business to the Beach
October 9, 2019

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Offshore racing returning to Fort Myers beach means inshore dollars being spent at local businesses, establishments, restaurants and hotels, providing an economic boost to the region during a typically slow time of year.

This weekend, the American Powerboat Association Roar Offshore event returns to Fort Myers Beach after more than a decade, where the inaugural APBA six-race series champions will be determined at the event that brings nearly 70,000 to the area.

"Everyone on the island is excited to see the return of Offshore Racing. It was a much loved event back in the day and we are all excited to welcome it back," said Jacki Liszak, president of the Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce.

The Offshore Powerboat Association and Powerboat P1 have joined forces to create the APBA World Offshore Championship series, where more than 50 teams from across the globe have tested their might in five cities, culminating this weekend on the Beach.

The races will also serve as the National Championship for the Offshore Powerboat Association.

National championship events draw large crowds, and Fort Myers Beach is the perfect place to hold an offshore racing event.

Race teams and spectators come from across the globe to compete and cheer on their favorite competitors.

"Race teams come from all over the world to compete," Tim Hill, Roar Offshore president, said. "Both visitors and residents can enjoy a number of pre-race parties, and seize the opportunity to see the powerboats up close."

Roar fans, while enjoying the action, also enjoy all the Beach has to offer while in the area -- a positive for local businesses.

"Fort Myers Beach will benefit from the economic boost that the Roar guests will bring with them," Liszak said. "During a usually slow time of year, Roar is drawing large crowds to the island which will result in hotel rooms, restaurants and attractions seeing an increase in their business."

Liszak said additional rooms booked in the area result in bed tex for the county, and other things such as watersports, fishing tours, cruises, etc, all benefit the local economy.

This is usually the time of year after the busier summer months and before the snowbird flock back down -- Roar will help employees and businesses create enough revenue until things start to ramp up.

"Events like Roar absolutely generates additional revenue for beach businesses, the city and the county," Liszak said. "It allows us to get a much needed 'boost in the arm' during what is usually our slowest part of the year. It also helps to sustain everyone until our winter residents and guests return from up north."

An event this size, that has events happening throughout the week and big-time racing on the weekend, traffic getting on and off the beach may be heavier than usual as the week progresses.

On Thursday, the Matanzas Pass Bridge will be closed from 5:45-6:15 as the Roar Offshore Race Boat Parade will see teams and vessels from Salty Sam's come over the bridge and into the downtown district.

"We'll line the streets of the entertainment district," Hill said.

Parade time begins at 5:45 and go down Old San Carlos Boulevard into Times Square and down 2nd and 5th streets.

The boats will be parked along each side of the street and is another opportunity for fans to come out and chat with the teams and their boats.

There will be a street party after the parade downtown from 6-10 p.m. with live entertainment.

Saturday is the main event, where all 13 classes of boats will be out vying for a championship.

Classes 1-7 open the racing Saturday morning at 10 a.m.

"Superstock," "Super Vee Extreme" and "Pro Stock Vee" will race at 11:30. "Supercat" will race at 12:30 and "Class One" and "Vee Extreme" at 2.

That night, an awards ceremony will be held at DiamondHead Beach Resort at 6:30 p.m.

"The FMB Chamber would like to thank everyone who had a hand in helping to return the Offshore Races to Fort Myers Beach," Liszak said. "There was an incredible amount of work done behind the scenes to make this event possible and it couldn't have been accomplished without the participation and team work of all involved. If you have never seen an Offshore Race, we encourage you to come out to the beach this weekend. This is a family friendly event that is great fun for all ages. Make sure you get here early and you utilize all of the public transportation that is available as parking on the island will be very limited. There are still plenty of hotel rooms and vacation rentals available, so why not consider spending a night or two for a 'mini stay-cation.'"

-Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj

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