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Key West Worlds turns 25

For NASCAR racers it’s the Daytona 500. For NFL players, the Super Bowl. In tennis, there’s Wimbledon. For offshore powerboat racers, the Key West World Championship is a priority ritual every November.

This year the event, to be held Nov. 13-20, will celebrate its silver anniversary. “This is where true offshore racing is,” says Mark Rossi, a Key West city commissioner and president of the Conch Republic Offshore Powerboat Racing Association, the event’s producer in conjunction with Super Boat International Productions.

Race organizers expect nearly 100 boats to participate in the event that serves as the culmination of the 2005 racing season for Super Boat International and American Power Boat Association/Union Internationale Motonautique competitors.

The 6.5-mile course through Key West Harbor and surrounding waters is what makes Key West one of the premiere racing venues in the world. What racers seem to like most about the course is the availability of both calm and rough-water racing.

“You can be doing 140 to 150 mph in the harbor and then all of a sudden you hit the outside [legs] and the waves can knock you down to 90 mph,” says John Tomlinson, the veteran, multiworld-champion throttleman for the Bacardi Silver Superboat. “That can make the race most intriguing.”

A pass for the week, which includes viewing and admission to the race village/pits area at Truman Annex, is $95 per person. Daily village admission on race days and non-race days is $15 and $5, respectively.

A variety of VIP packages, including lunch during race day and admission to social events, begins at under $200 per person. For details, visit www.superboat.com or call (305) 296-6166.

New ‘Super Boat Expo’ coming to Florida

For the first time in years, a boat show in which high-performance vessels will be featured is coming to Florida. The first Super Boat Expo, scheduled for May 19-21, 2006, at the 100,000-square-foot Sarasota-Bradenton International Convention Center, features high-

performance boats as well as fishing boats with 500 or more horsepower.

According to boating industry veteran Bob Black, president of Super Boat Expo, the boating marketplace is becoming ever more vertical and speedboats need their own venue. He points to the world of boating magazines, noting there are now four publications totally devoted to high-performance, offshore racing and poker runs. “Further,” Black says, “several magazines feature very fast trailerable fishing boats such as those fishing the Southern Kingfish Association or the FLW circuits. These boats, usually ranging from 28 to 38 feet overall, often carry triple engines totaling 750 horsepower.

“Buyers of these boats are affluent,” he adds. “They’re not afraid of high gas prices and while speed is a niche market, these two — fishboats and performance boats — are a rich niche with a widespread range in power options and overall length.”

For information, call (813) 633-1101 or e-mail superboatexpo@verizon.net . The Web site is www.superboatexpo.com

Donzi turns outfastpatrol boats

The Government Services group for American Marine Holdings — parent company of Donzi Marine and Pro-Line Boats — delivered this year two new high-speed pilothouse patrol boats for the purposes of homeland security, and currently has a third unit in production.

Both the City of Virginia Beach Police Department and Jacksonville, Fla., Sheriff’s Office have taken delivery of these new high-speed, fully enclosed pilothouse security boats. The 320 and 340 Pilothouse models are available with twin and triple four-stroke outboard motor configurations, fully enclosed cabins, hull-side foam fenders, generator, air conditioning and heat, dive door and weapons mounts. The high-performance hulls are capable of achieving speeds in excess of 65 miles per hour in a sea state 4 (up to 8-foot seas), according to the company.

The new boats have been built directly from Donzi Marine’s ZF center console line.

The City of Virginia Beach Police, who patrol the coastline of Virginia Beach and the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, took delivery of the 340 Pilothouse in April 2005. According to Sgt. Andrew Speiss of the department, “The 340 Pilothouse gives us high speed offshore boarding capabilities and quick response time in inclement weather.”

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office took delivery of the 320 Pilothouse in January 2005 and subsequently used the vessel to provide security for the Super Bowl.

Prince William County Police in Virginia have also purchased a 340 Pilothouse under a federal grant. That vessel is currently in production and was scheduled to be delivered in October.

Offshore School offers sail, power courses

Offshore Sailing School, based in Fort Myers, Fla., has gift certificates in $100 increments available for purchase.

Two-hour clinics start at $125 per person, and two- to five-day courses start at $795 per person. Those purchasing a gift amount of at least $200 will receive an autographed book of their choice by Steve or Doris Colgate to keep or give; gifts of $300 or more also include a pair of sailing gloves.

Offshore Sailing School offers courses for beginners through advanced cruising and racing. Power Cruise School provides the training to safely handle a 30-foot powerboat.

Locations include Fort Myers Beach, Captiva Island, Florida Keys and St. Petersburg, Fla.; Jersey City, N.J.; New York, N.Y.; Lake George, N.Y.; Newport, R.I.; and Abaco, Bahamas and Tortola, British Virgin Islands.

For information call (800) 221-4326. www.offshore-sailing.com

Hunter dealers honored in Florida

Hunter Marine announced its top dealers at a recent meeting of its North American retailers held in St. Augustine, Fla.

The Dealer of the Year award went to Angus Yachts of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada.

Top five in sales (in descending order) included Angus Yachts; Norton’s Yacht Sales, Deltaville, Va.; Tidewater Marina, Havre de Grace, Md.; Sailing Specialties, Mystic, Conn.; and H&S Yacht Sales, San Diego, Calif.

The award for best customer service went to Norton’s Yacht Sales, which was rated No.1 among the results of Hunter’s online Customer Satisfaction Surveys, which included scores for meeting timelines, delivery handling and warranty service. www.huntermarine.com

St. Pete dealer wins national awards

Thunder Marine, a St. Petersburg, Fla.-based recreational boat retailer, won a second major national customer satisfaction award, this time from Luhrs. The award, a sculpted glass trophy, was presented in St. Augustine during the annual gathering of principal owners of Luhrs dealerships.

A month earlier, Thunder Marine was recognized by U.S. Marine as Dealer of Distinction for marketing strategy.

The CSI award from Luhrs recognizes Thunder Marine for having received the highest service scores of all Luhrs dealers nationally in the 2005 model year.

Thunder Marine is a 21-year-old family-operated dealership with two locations in St. Petersburg and is expanding a sales division in Englewood, Fla. The company carries Luhrs, Silverton, Maxum, Baja, Bayliner, Trophy, Maxum and Hydra-Sports boats. www.thundermarine.com