Powerboat Grand Prix: Climax and Conclusion

Sports

BY PHILIP LEDERER SRQ DAILY FRIDAY WEEKEND EDITION FRIDAY JUL 3, 2015

With the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix in full swing, docks rock swollen and full to bursting with varied high-speed nautical conveyances. Boat owners pace the shores champing at their bits, ready for the races and the chance to compete for pride and a piece of the $70,000 prize purse.

Tonight, families can stop by the Festival Parade of Boats as it rolls through Main Street and take a gander at this year’s entrants and racers; just tuck the kids away before heading to the Downtown Block Party, running from 4pm-midnight between Orange and Lemon avenues, complete with vendors, food and a swimsuit pageant.

The racing begins in earnest Saturday morning at 10am off Lido Beach with qualifying rounds for powerboat and jet ski racers and the beginning of two continuous days of racing, according to Lucy Nicandri, executive director for Suncoast Charities for Children, the nonprofit organizer of the Grand Prix. Revamping the race schedule so that races are divided by class and spread over two days instead of one, Nicandri promises a more intuitive viewing experience this year, where spectators from the beach will be able to clearly identify who’s racing who and who’s winning amidst the spray and the foam. The addition of Aqua-X and jet ski racing “brings another new element,” said Nicandri, but the spirit of the event remains and it’s still for a good cause.

“It’s going to be a great time—it’s great entertainment and it’s free,” said Nicandri laughing, “but still, the bottom line is that it’s going to help a great non-profit.” For the last 30 years, the Grand Prix, in some form or another, has been an important fundraiser for Suncoast Charities, according to Nicandri, enabling the nonprofit to provide needed services and construct new facilities. “It’s part of our history,” said Nicandri.

The races conclude Sunday off Lido Beach with the final rounds from 10am-5pm, followed by an awards ceremony on the beach at the Sandcastle Resort, free and open to the public.

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