OC Council OK’s Powerboat Racing Event For June 7-9

OCEAN CITY – Resort officials this week voted to approve a terms sheet for this year’s Race World Offshore Boat Race, which will be supported by a $110,000 contribution from Ocean City.

On Tuesday, the Mayor and Council had before them a terms sheet for the Race World Offshore (RWO) Boat Race, to be held June 7-9. In a presentation this week, Special Events Director Frank Miller said the terms sheet outlines general event information, locations, budget and the responsibilities of both the race organizer and the town.

“As you recall, we brought RWO powerboat race in front of council previously, at which point you had approved our continued effort to move forward with this event opportunity,” he said. “Our goal was to bring a terms sheet in front of you, as well as a budget for the elements the town will be producing as part of this effort.”

The terms sheet presented to the council Tuesday describes the boat race event as a Town of Ocean City special event, with the tourism department as the producer and RWO, the race sanctioning body, as the race organizer.

Miller said that while the town would be responsible for things like permits, public viewing sites and producing of non-race public elements, RWO would be responsible for things like race functionality, vessel inspections and helicopter services for video footage. The terms sheet also includes a cancellation policy and proposed dates for years two and three of the event. The RWO powerboat race is anticipated to return June 6-8, 2025 and June 5-7, 2026.

“This is a one-year event agreement with two date holds looking out to 2025 and 2026,” Miller said. “It includes a general timeline on how days will be laid out and breaks out responsibilities of the town, the host, and RWO, the race organizer.”

Miller said the event would feature an offshore race area – which would span from the Inlet to as far north as 32nd Street – a dry pit area at the convention center and a wet pit area at Sunset Marina. Since the layout spans into West Ocean City, Miller said the event must seek approval from Worcester County.

When asked if the town had reached out to county staff, Miller said he had been in contact with the county’s recreation and parks director. He noted the county had approved similar events in the past, but on a smaller scale.

“They are reviewing an application draft we’ve given them …,” he said. “We are asking a little more from them, so we will see how it goes.”

Miller told the council the terms sheet also outlines fees and costs. He said the agreement provides RWO with a contribution of $110,000 in the first year.

“That’s $75,000 coming from tourism and the residual amount of $35,000 coming from monies earmarked for use by the air show in the fiscal year 2024 budget,” he said. “As you are aware, the air show, which is normally in June, will be held in August, which pushes it into the fiscal year 2025 budget. So the monies earmarked in 2024 will not be used for the air show.”

Miller added that there would be public viewing areas on the beach for the powerboat races. But unlike the air show, there will be no infrastructure in the sand.

“It will likely be on private property,” he said.

Council President Matt James noted the event called for closures of northbound Baltimore Avenue from 15th to 20th streets for a static boat display and merchandise sales. Miller noted that the plan had the support of both the Ocean City Police Department and Ocean City Fire Department.

Miller explained the event will have emergency, medical and operations plans, as well as insurance coverage. He also outlined the revenues and expenses associated with the RWO event. He said potential revenues totaled $78,000, while expenses – including the $110,000 contribution – totaled $165,000.

“We’re hopefully forecasting we can make a net profit on this event, even in its first year,” he said. “And that’s using conservative attendance numbers in terms of what we will have for revenue streams.”

Mayor Rick Meehan questioned if the $75,000 from the tourism department was a grant. Tourism and Business Development Director Tom Perlozzo said it was the same funds normally used for the former Tourism Advisory Board.

“This is just year one,” Perlozzo said of the contribution. “In years two and three, we’ve got a state grant to cover the cost. It’s just a jumpstart thing.”

Meehan also questioned if there would be a television component to the powerboat races.

Roderick Cox of Cox Group said RWO was hoping to work with local radio stations to offer live coverage.

He said races would also be livestreamed.

“We will livestream it, as we’ve found most people, fans and teams prefer to have content live,” he explained. “That will be broadcast on our Facebook and YouTube channel around the world.”

When asked about the number of boats expected to participate, Cox said he anticipated between 40 and 45. He added that there was no minimum number of boats needed for the event to proceed, as the event was part of a racing series that attracted several participants.

“We look forward to having a good turnout here,” he said.

Following Tuesday’s presentation, the council voted unanimously to approve the event as presented.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.