CLEARWATER — Huge crowds turned out over the weekend to watch offshore powerboat races along Clearwater Beach, and organizers are planning to bring back the event next year.
The best view of the Clearwater Super Boat Offshore National Championship was out on the water. The U.S. Coast Guard estimated that 5,200 boats lined the race course, compared with 2,400 boats in 2009, the event's first year. Thousands more spectators crowded the beach during Sunday's race.
"There were a lot more boats in the water," said local restaurateur Frank Chivas, co-chairman of the race. "The weather was in our favor. Everything is heading in the right direction to make this a yearly event."
An estimated 70,000 people watched the races from boats, the beach, and hotel and condo balconies, said former Clearwater Mayor Brian Aungst, also a co-chairman of the event. Another 20,000 attended a family festival Friday in downtown's Coachman Park, where the racing boats were on display.