Commentary: Only Unity Can Grow Offshore Racing


Offshore racing is spectacular. But it won’t grow unless is unifies and streamlines. Photo courtesy/copyright Tim Sharkey.

I swore I was never going to write this commentary again. In 16 years with Powerboat magazine, I think I wrote one version or another of it a half-dozen times. I thought that was more than enough. Fact is, I feel like I’ve beaten the topic to death. It’s boring.

But there’s this persistent friend of mine who, whenever he’s spies me online, asks me via instant message when I am going to use my voice to “help save” domestic offshore racing. I really like this guy—he’s a grassroots, P-5 class racer who’s been at it for much of his adult life. He’s not rich and he’s certainly not famous. He races because he loves it. He’s passionate and persuasive; so persuasive, in fact, that against my better judgment I am writing this commentary, one more time.

I’ll keep is simple: At present, offshore racing has three “major” sanctioning bodies. It needs one.

Why? Multiple sanctioning bodies divide a fleet that can barely support one.

At present, offshore racing has more than 12 classes. It needs two—and they need to be “spec.” OK, for those who find that a little harsh and restrictive, I’d settle for four spec classes. Two catamaran, two V-bottom. More than enough.

Why? In its current multi-class format, offshore racing—a tough sell to even the most avid motorsports fan—is incomprehensible. I don’t really care which organization is the last one standing. I have friends who race and work in all of them. But it needs to happen if growth and expansion are priorities.

Offshore racing will not die if these changes don’t happen. It will simply stay the way it is. I don’t think it will ever die because of people like my previously mentioned friend. He’s far from alone in his passion for the sport. Let’s face it, why would anyone who isn’t in love with  the sport put up with all the nonsense that comes with it?

Here’s the thing: Nothing I’ve said is revolutionary or radical. You could quibble over the number of classes I suppose, but just about everyone agrees there are too many. Just as most everyone agrees on the need for one sanctioning body.

So … if you’re an offshore racer, do something about it. I’ll tell you the same thing I told my friend: You have all the power. You are paying the freight with no return other than a great time on the water, which is significant but doesn’t fill your gas tank.

Don’t like something? Vote with your wallet. In other words, don’t complain about a sanctioning body and then support it with your hard-earned dollars. I’ve seen that happen so many times, and it still baffles me because I don’t see a whole lot of trust-funders in the offshore racing community. I see men and even a few woman who are self made and worked their butts off to become that way.

So again, if you don’t like something, vote with your wallet.

You guys—and gals—have all the power you need to change things. (Of course, you can’t change the economy and that cannot be discounted as a factor in the current state of offshore racing.)

So embrace it. And use it.

Because I really don’t want to write this commentary again. And I won’t. I’m taking a stand right here, right now.

Until next time.