One of Clearwater Beach’s biggest crowd draws is back this September. The Bay area welcomes the best in offshore powerboat racing as the Hooters Clearwater Offshore Nationals returns Friday, September 23 through Sunday, September 25. In past events, more than 180,000 boaters and other participants, spectators, and local businesses took part in a jam-packed weekend of activities, culminating in powerboat races along a 2.5-mile course off the white, sandy beaches of Clearwater Beach.
Racing fans can hop on their own boat and follow along in a flotilla of spectators or catch the boating action from Pier 60 or the shores of Clearwater Beach. VIP Passes are also available for those who want the best views of the racing action and access to all race weekend festivities and parties, discounts on participating restaurants and discounts on the race watching cruise.
The Offshore Nationals races take place on Sunday, but the rest of the weekend is full of fun activities for both the race teams and racing enthusiasts to have fun and engage with those participating in the competition. On Friday, September 23, kick off things with the BAYSTAR RACE VIP PARTY featuring food, drink and live music at Clearwater Marine Aquarium, 3rd Floor, from 5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Those with VIP passes will get an opportunity to meet the racers and get signed photos that evening. For others interested in pre-race fun, Shephard’s Beach Resort will be hosting its own Kickoff Party from 8:00 p.m. to close featuring a live band in the evening and DJ after midnight.
On Saturday, September 24, spectators can hang out on the beach or perch along Pier 60 and watch as the teams take the boats out into the Gulf of Mexico for race boat water testing from noon to 4:00 p.m. Then, onlookers can stick around at the pier for a popular community event, Sunset at Pier 60, from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. with vendors, concessions, and live entertainment available and Clearwater’s spectacular sunsets the main attraction worth sticking around to see. Afterward, Shephard’s hosts its own VIP Party from 8:00 p.m. to close with live music until 1:00 a.m. and a DJ to follow.
But for boat racing fans, Sunday is when the real magic happens – race day! See some of the fastest, largest powerboats hit the Gulf Coast and race along Clearwater Beach as they compete from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. in multiple classes per race. Races are APBA-sanctioned and feature US Class-1, Super Cat, Super Vee, Prostock Cat, Prostock Vee, APBA Class 1-7, and P1 Superstock. Those who wish to view the races from Pier 60 should note that entry is 9:00 a.m. and tickets are available day of the race for $20 adults and $10 children. No coolers or chairs are permitted at the Pier.
Following the races, Marina Cantina hosts a Race Party & Awards Ceremony 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. open to visiting fans, area residents, and the participating teams. To close out the full weekend of offshore boating fun, Shephard’s hosts the Largest Post Race Beach Party from 4:00 p.m. to close. Admission is free, and guests can expect fun beach activities and live music all night long.
Each year, event organizers select beneficiaries for proceeds from race weekend. This year, proceeds will support Tampa Bay Charities, Inc., The Clearwater Community Sailing Center, and Sailability Tampa Bay. All three organizations share a common goal of connecting local children and adults with Bay area waters through the sport of sailing and supporting their efforts to enjoy the activity safely and affordably.
For the latest details about race weekend, visit the event website by clicking here. Readers can also get the latest updates by following the event at its Facebook page.
Story written exclusively for DestinationTampa Bay™ by Chris Kuhn. All photos are from previous Super Boat Races for editorail purposes only–all rights reserved.