CLEARWATER – The Gulf of Mexico will become a racetrack on water as international racing teams began arriving Wednesday to compete Sunday in the fifth annual Bright House Clearwater Super Boat Championship.
This is the seventh race of the offshore season, with the final race of the world championships in November in Key West, according to a news release from Super Boat International president John Carbonell.
“There has been some great racing all season and, when we come to Clearwater, everyone is ready to put on a great show,” he commented. “Frank Chivas, Brian Aungst and the entire Clearwater team, along with their media partners, really do a great job of promoting the race.”
The proof, Carbonell added, is seeing 5,000 spectator boats lining the course and thousands of fans all along the beaches.
According to a 2012 economic impact study conducted by Research Data Services, Inc. of Tampa, the event generated some 6,200 room nights; the average visitor stay in area hotels was two nights; the estimated direct impact (expenditures) was $7.5 million; and the estimated total economic impact was $15 million.
Race fans can expect some of the biggest and fastest boats to take to the Gulf waters off Clearwater Beach Sunday including STIHL, WHM, JD Byrider, Spirit of Qatar and Red Hot Racing. Some racers will reach a maximum top speed of 117 mph.
Much of the pre-race activities will be hosted at the Baystar Race Village in Coachman Park, 301 Drew St. Fans will have a chance to meet the racers there from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Admission is free.
On Saturday, race fans can get a glimpse of the competitors going through pre-race technical and safety inspections on Clearwater Harbor from noon to 5 p.m. Racers will launch their go-fast boats from the Seminole boat ramp, at 198 Seminole St. just less than a mile north of Coachman Park.
In conjunction with the offshore boat race, the Bright House Star Spectacular will take place downtown starting at 7 p.m. Saturday. The festival and concert will be staged in the 400 block of Cleveland Street and feature music by The Alter Eagles, a well-known Eagles tribute band from Orlando, and the Killing Floor, a group that combines British and American rock music.
On Sunday, the first race is set to start at noon, followed by the second race at 2 p.m. The start and finish line will be on the Gulf side of the Sandpearl Resort, 500 Mandalay Ave. An awards presentation will follow at 4:30 p.m. at Baystar Race Village in Coachman Park.
For those interested in watching the Sunday races online, the event will be streamed on https://new.livestream.com/sbi/clearwater2013.