Key West world championships

Powerboats to roar back into Key West waters

As many as 55 fast and loud powerboats — some reaching speeds well over 100 miles per hour — will race this week in the Key West World Championships. The fleet will compete for world titles in eight classes on an often bumpy, treacherous 6.2-mile course that starts and finishes in Key West Harbor.

Three races will be held daily on Wednesday, Friday and next Sunday beginning at 10 a.m., with Sunday’s final requiring double the laps and awarding double the points of the previous two days.

The most-watched class is Superboat Unlimited — the largest and fastest boats in the fleet. Sheik Hassan Al-Thani and crewman Steve Curtis will defend their Unlimited title aboard their 41-foot Victory, Spirit of Qatar.

Last year’s worlds went off with no major injuries, but the 2011 event was marred by the deaths of three racers in two separate accidents. The tragedies prompted John Carbonell, president of Super Boat International Productions — which puts on the race — to beef up safety protocols.

“We’re on top of it,” Carbonell said. “We’ve got medical doctors out there, choppers flying, and ambulances waiting.”

Best viewing is from the Race Village at the Truman Waterfront, located at the foot of Southard Street, where race boats pass within 50 yards of the grandstands. Other popular spectator sites are Mallory Square and adjacent waterfront restaurants.

Although many racers say Key West is their favorite venue, the championships could relocate to Florida’s Gulf Coast next year. Carbonell said the mayor of Clearwater — the site of the national championship last month — told him his city wants the worlds. And Carbonell said Sarasota also has expressed interest. He said he would talk with representatives of both cities, as well as Key West, after this week’s event and make a decision soon.

“Whoever gives me the best deal, we’ll go from there,” Carbonell said. “I’m looking at what’s best for the sport, best for the racers, and best for me.”

Read more Outdoors stories from the Miami Herald

  • Fishing report

    Captain Glyn Austin of Going Coastal Fishing Charters out of Sebastian reported that catch-and-release fishing for snook with live baits and artificial lures day and night has been outstanding in and around the Sebastian Inlet all the way north to the Patrick Air Force Base. Redfish and a few permits are biting in the Sebastian Inlet and are being caught on small blue crabs. Along the beaches, tarpon, bonito, jacks and sharks can be targeted all the way to Port Canaveral. These fish have been feeding along the big baitfish schools. Offshore reef fishing has been good for cobias and mangrove snappers up to 12 pounds.

A large Goliath grouper nestled into the Bonaire shipwreck off Jupiter.


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    Dropping into the roiled, murky waters 60 feet deep off Jupiter Inlet on Monday, I heard the annual spawning aggregation of Goliath groupers before I actually saw it. Below me, I could barely make out the wreck of the MG 111 or the mottled, gentle giants that show up each year between late July and mid-October to keep their species going. But the Goliaths already had seen our group of divers and weren’t too happy about our visit. They emitted loud, bass booming noises that sound a little like gun reports – probably to alert each other and to warn us not to get too cozy.

 <span class="cutline_leadin">Under the sea:</span> The ferro cement sailboat Usikusiku sits 75 feet deep on the ocean floor after being deployed Tuesday as an artificial reef off Hollywood. It already is attracting marine life.


    Sailboat finds new life in final resting place

    The 43-foot ferro cement sailboat doesn’t look very impressive sitting on the ocean floor about 75 feet deep off Hollywood. It’s plain and bare with no design flourishes.

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