Thousands Throng to Super Boat National Championship

Clearwater Super Boat National Championships

Three days of fun and excitement are on tap for this year’s Super Boat Races on Clearwater Beach.   Thousands of fans will gather at Coachman Park and Clearwater Beach for one of the area’s most exciting events.

It’s time for the “Bright House Clearwater Super Boat National Championship & Seafood Festival”. The  event will take over the Cleveland Street District and Clearwater Beach as thousands of visitors from around the country will gather to watch racers compete for their spots in the  World Championship.

Brian Aungst Sr. points out that the event that he and Frank Chivas, owner of Baystar Restaurants, brought to Clearwater six years ago now brings an $18 million impact to the area by attracting about 180,000 people for the races and the activities surrounding them.

“This elite event is important to our area since it brings so many visitors to our beaches, resorts, restaurants and area businesses in historically one of the slowest weeks for tourism each year, said Aungst. Frank Chivas and I are thrilled that it has grown this large in only 6 years and is now considered an elite-family friendly event, that has something for everyone to enjoy”!

“We are proud to be able to showcase our world class beach with all of its amenities and to give everyone a reason to come for the weekend to enjoy a family festival atmosphere and of course the fastest boats on the water”! said Chivas.

Some of the fastest boats in the world, equipped with F-16 jet canopies and 6,000-horsepower engines, will race at speeds of up to 180 mph in the Gulf of Mexico off Clearwater Beach. The National Championship Races start from north Clearwater Beach on Sunday afternoon, and make the turn just past Pier 60, so the shoreline and beachfront hotels make great vantage points.

This three-day event is packed with activities beyond racing. Don’t miss the accompanying festivals and Baystar Race Village in nearby Coachman Park, where you can take photos with the boats and teams, enjoy a block party and the seafood festival and listen to live entertainment.

Friday Parade, ‘Meet and Greet’

The fun begins on Friday when racers from around the world arrive to check in. Spectators can see the boats/teams up close, get autographs and photos and enjoy food and beverages available for purchase in the Baystar Race Village at Coachman Park

VIP ticket holders will gather beginning at 5:30 p.m. for the “Meet and Greet Who’s in the Driver Seat.” VIP’s will then enjoy the Baystar Race Village VIP Steel Drum Cocktail Party with Heavy Appetizers, hosted by the Clearwater Chamber of Commerce and Baystar Restaurant Group.

While this is going on, the Cleveland Street District will come alive with a Super Boat Parade Down Cleveland Street with Super Boats on Display. This free family fun event, hosted by Clearwater Downtown Development Board, will have contests, games, prizes and vendors as well as live music by a yet to be named band. A new VIP party has been added at the recently renovated Capitol Theater. It is sure to be a “can’t miss event”!

Saturday Excitement, Fireworks & Free Concert

Lots more excitement is scheduled for Saturday, when Baystar Race Village will be open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Once again, spectators can see the boats and teams up close and enjoy great seafood from local restaurants. They also can see practice runs by the Super Boats throughout the day. From 6 to 9 p.m. Pier 60 Concessions will host a Fireworks display along with vendors and ice cream.

Some of the partygoers will head over the Shephard’s Resort for a VIP Party from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. with entertainment by Top 40 Rock ‘n’ Roll Bands and light refreshments. This “don’t miss” party is hosted by the Clearwater Beach Chamber of Commerce and Shephard’s Beach Resort Clearwater Beach.

Sunday: The Races Begin at Noon

Watch the races from Clearwater Beach Pier 60 on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets will be available on the day of the race at Pier 60 only, priced at $5 and $20. Super Boat Race Heat 1 begins at 12 noon, and Heat 2 begins at 2 p.m.

Two hotels on the Beach will be hosting special VIP parties beginning at 11 a.m. on Sunday. VIP ticket holders can also view the Race from the VIP Deck at the 8th Floor Vista Terrace overlooking the Gulf at the Hyatt Regency, or at a VIP event on the beach at The palm Pavilion. Watching the race from the shore or from your own boat (not on the actual race course) is free. Last year more than 5300 personal boats, with over 50,000 people on board, showed up to watch the Super Boat Nationals which makes it by far the largest “spectator fleet” on the Super Boat International circuit.

The largest official After Race Beach Party ever will begin at Shephard’s Clearwater Beach Resort beginning at 4 p.m. and continuing until the party is over. The Miss Clearwater Super Boat Corona Girl Pageant is open to those who come by water or land with a $500 prize for 1st place.

Tickets are required for the VIP events. These tickets are priced at $100 for adults and $25 for children under 16 and are available at the Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce, 600 Cleveland Street #200, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Will call for the Chamber will be available at the Baystar Race Village Party at the Promenade on the Bay located in Coachman Park between the hours of 5:30 and 9 p.m. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact the Chamber at 727-461-0011 or visit www.clearwaterflorida.org/events.

A VIP Lanyard entitles purchasers to enjoy all the parties mentioned above as well as special events on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. including free admission to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and Winter’s Dolphin Tale Adventure, free Jolley Trolley Rides, free sailboat rides and paddleboat demos at the Clearwater Community Sailing Center.

Article written for Destination Tampa Bay magazine

Photos By Dorian Photography