Promoters, St. Pete Beach reach compromise on powerboat race course

By Josh Rojas, Reporter
Last Updated: Tuesday, May 09, 2017, 5:49 AM EDT

A compromise has been reached between the promoters of a powerboat race, whose original course would require water sport vendors to shut down on Father’s Day weekend, and the City of St. Pete Beach, according to the City Manager.

  • Coast Guard informed city in April of potential problem
  • Powerboat course too close to the beach
  • Local water sports vendors would be negatively impacted

City Manager Wayne Saunders said Powerboat P1 USA group has adjusted their two-mile race course configuration so that it would not impact vendors. The Coast Guard, however, still needs to approve it.

In April, city leaders were told by the Coast Guard that the original race course was so close to the beach that water vendors would not be able to operate. Saunders said the promoters initially asked the City to shut down the vendors for June 17-18, but he told them that was not possible.

Mayor Al Johnson said he would not have voted for the annual boat race if he knew it would impact vendors and tourists.

“That was pretty much unacceptable,” Mayor Johnson said. “Mainly because not only do the vendors lose money, but our tourists who come here and go to our hotels, they want to play.”

Captain Mike Bomar, the owner of St. Pete Parasail, said shutting down operations on the beach for a weekend would cause his business to lose a lot of money.

“When you lose a holiday weekend, it really hurts,” said Bomar.

Saunders said he’s going to update city commissioners at Tuesday’s meeting about the new race course, which should allow vendors to operate at the same time as the race.

“I’m all for it. I think it’s a great thing,” Bomar said. “I hope it’s a very positive thing, but we do need to let everybody participate in the money-making part of it.”

Mayor Johnson also said he’s satisfied with that compromise.

“If the beach vendors can operate, they’ll do well,” Johnson said. “We’ll have a lot more people from out of town here and there’ll be a lot more business for them.”

We were unable to reach the Powerboat P1 USA group for comment.