CLEARWATER – Racing teams in the Bright House Clearwater Super Boat National Championship put on quite a show on the Gulf of Mexico in Clearwater Beach last weekend.
And based on comments from local organizers Frank Chivas and Brian Aungst, the city of Clearwater made it to the winners circle as well.
“In just five years, the race has become one of the elite events in the State of Florida and the favorite stop on the Super Boat International circuit, surpassing many events that have been in existence for years,” Aungst stated.
Chivas said that by 11:30 a.m. race day U.S. Coast Guard officials estimated that more than 3,800 boats had moored in the 'safe zone' area to watch the race and “more and more boaters continued coming out for the race.”
The spectator boat fleet remains the largest on the Super Boat International circuit, Aungst said, topping out at over 5,500 boats along the length of the course, with over 40,000 people enjoying the action from the Gulf.
Early estimates also indicate that the Sunday race event drew a record crowd of up to 75,000 people on the beach, Pier 60 and in the hotels and condos, said Aungst.
“The two and a half day attendance totaled upwards of a record shattering 170,000 attendees.”
Along with becoming a favorite location on the super boat circuit, Aungst also attributes the increase in crowds due to change in the start time of the races.
“We moved the race starting times back one hour to 12 noon and 2 p.m. to allow more time for people who may attend church and other morning events to make it out for the race.”
Gregory Klampt, BM1 and operations officer at the U.S. Coast Guard Station Sand Key confirmed Wednesday that the event went “very smooth and safe. There were no accidents and boaters cooperated without any pushback.”
Klampt estimated that 50 personnel and five vessels were on duty race day including the 87-foot Cutter Crocodile patrol boat, two 45-foot response boats, two 25-foot response boats and a small special purpose craft to reach shallow water.
The coast guard assisted the Florida Wildlife Commission with two violations for boating under the influence of alcohol, he said.
“Over the years, we have established a presence and this year we set out earlier to establish the spectator zone,” Klampt said.
Looking ahead to 2014, Aungst said next year's race will be Sept. 26-Sept. 28.
Rodrick Cox, public relations director for Super Boat International said, “We'll be back, Clearwater.”