By Jim Bloch
The St. Clair River, like Main Streets across much of America, was strangely silent during the pandemic summer of 2020.
The Blue Water Offshore Racing Association’s annual race known as the St. Clair River Classic was not run and the big wedge-shaped boats remained on trailers or shrink-wrapped in quiet marinas. BWORA’s entertainment and advertising partner FunFest, Inc. did not fill Palmer Park with the thunder of classic rock.
Don’t expect the silence to continue through the summer of 2021.
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“The 27th annual St. Clair River Classic Offshore Race is a go and will take place Friday, July 30- Sunday, Aug 1,” said Bob Currier on June 25 in a statement.
Currier is BWORA’s secretary/treasurer.
Expect as many as 60 offshore boats thundering around the four-mile course that runs in the river from the Cargill salt plant to roughly the River Crab restaurant.
Expect plenty of rock-and-roll even though FunFest announced in May that it was pulling out of the event because of the pandemic. Currier said that BWORA will be partnering with the St. Clair Chamber of Commerce and Riverview Plaza to program the entertainment.
“This year aims to be different in a big way,” said Currier. “Two of the world’s largest offshore boat organizers, Powerboat P1 out of London and the Offshore Powerboat Association (OPA) will again come together jointly promoting the American Power Boat Association (APBA) Offshore Championship.”
BWORA first teamed up with Powerboat-P1 in 2019, nearly doubling the number of boats that had competed in 2018.
“Partnerships are at the heart of our own business, and we are looking forward to working with BWORA to continue to stage an event that excites and entertains,” said Ed “Smitty” Smith, president of OPA racing.
“This is a huge deal,” said Currier. “Powerboat P1 is the largest international powerboat racing promoter and OPA is one of the largest promoters in the United States. This wouldn’t be possible without local help either… Several local business and industries have stepped up to financially support the event.”
Currier said the 2021 race represented “a rebirth of a grassroots St. Clair River Classic.”
BWORA launched the competition in 1994, when 14 boats competed.
“A new twist to this year’s event is the newly passed local regulation on adult beverages within the event venue,” said Currier. “The city of St. Clair will now allow alcohol consumption in Palmer Park, Rotary Park and the public rights of way, specifically Third Street between Clinton Avenue and Vine Street, Clinton Avenue between Sixth Street and M-29, as well as M-29 between Clinton and Vine Street, between the hours of noon and 11 p.m.”
The city council adopted the expanded drinking policy at its regular meeting June 14.
“As president of the Blue Water Offshore Racing Association, it is an honor to once again help bring the St. Clair River Classic to its impressive 27th annual race,” said Steve Brunner in a statement. “This year, 60 plus racers will turn their sights on St. Clair in what is shaping up to be a great boat count and show for the local race fans”
After a race-free 2020, excitement for the St. Clair River Classic is at an all-time high, said Currier.
“The entire weekend will be filled with activities the whole family can enjoy,” Currier said.
Jim Bloch is a freelance writer based in St. Clair, Michigan. Contact him at email@example.com.