2017 Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix Festival had economic impact of $36.2 million on Sarasota County

Proceeds go to facilities and services for people of all ages with special needs

Boats in the largest class of the festival race in the Gulf of Mexico off Lido Key Beach. Image courtesy Suncoast Charities for Children

As Suncoast Charities for Childrenprepares for its 34thannual Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix Festival this summer, Executive Director Lucy Nicandri has pointed to the $36.2-million economic impact of last year’s event on Sarasota County.

Addressing members of the county’s Tourist Development Council (TDC) on May 17, Nicandri noted that research undertaken during and after the 2017 festival show that it was responsible for 18,500 room nights in accommodations. Surveys of attendees, she continued, also found that over 83% of the people at the boat races and related events said the competition was what drew them to Sarasota County, “not necessarily the July Fourth holiday.”

Each year, the festival occurs right around that holiday. The 2018 dates are June 23 through July 4, the event websitenotes, with the races set for June 30 and July 1. HotelPlanneris the new sponsor.

Suncoast Charities for Children spends more than $400,000 on the races and related activities, Nicandri noted. For several years, she pointed out, the Sarasota County Commission has given the nonprofit a $100,000 grant to assist with expenses. She emphasized Suncoast Charities’ appreciation of that support.

A graphic provides economic impact figures for the festival since 2012. Image courtesy Suncoast Charities for Children

The nonprofit serves “roughly 8,000 clients of all ages with special needs,” she pointed out. Thanks to revenue from the festival, it has been able to provide facilities valued at more than $20 million for agencies from North Port to Sarasota, she added, including Children First of Venice and The Florida Center for Early Childhood. The net revenue from the festival that Suncoast gives those organizations ranges from $100,000 to $120,000 a year, she said.

Suncoast also supports programs and services for the clients of those organizations, Nicandri noted.

After she concluded her remarks, Nicandri introduced Azam Rangoonwala, the CEO of Powerboat P1, which is the sanctioning body for the races in Sarasota.

“We are an international marine motorsport promoter,” Rangoonwala explained to the TDC. P1 runs three different race series around the world, with events in seven different countries, he added. Along with the Sarasota festival, he said, P1 has scheduled races on the Great Lakes, in the United Kingdom and in Europe. Last year, he continued, it held an event in Mumbai, India. “It’s really a global circuit that we run.”

P1 produces three television shows featuring the Sarasota County festival, Rangoonwala noted. The total media valuation of those productions — based on Nielsenresearch — is more than $1.8 million, he pointed out.

A graphic showed that the three different race series in Sarasota have been televised in 153 countries.

This year, Rangoonwala continued, CBS Sports will air reruns of the races on July 22, with the expectation of reaching 65 million homes.

A graphic provides details about the global reach of P1 competitions. Image courtesy Suncoast Charities for Children

The Sarasota festival, he noted, “is one of the biggest events that we have.” P1 became involved with it three years ago, he added.

Along with the races, he said, P1 partners with Suncoast Charities on the Share the Beachenvironmental awareness campaign. The company has been expanding that to other events, he said.

P1 works with Nicandri to produce flyers to encourage race attendees to be aware of and respectful of wildlife, he said.

It also runs a marine mammal observation program during the races, Rangoonwala pointed out, in the effort to ensure no wildlife is harmed.

“Thank you for your support,” he told the TDC members.

Competitors race in an Aqua Cross event off Lido Key. Image courtesy Suncoast Charities for Children

When Commissioner Charles Hines, who chairs the TDC, asked whether anyone had questions for Nicandri or Rangoonwala, Bob Daniels, vice mayor of Venice, responded. “I just want to know that last speaker’s nationality.”

Rangoonwala — who has what could be characterized as a cultured British accent — explained that he was born in London to parents who are from Pakistan. He lives in Orlando, he added.

Then TDC member Vern Johnson asked about the various classes of boats that race in Sarasota.

Rangoonwala replied that the Aqua competition involves personal watercraft, such as jet skis; the Superstock races are for single-engine boats that P1 manufactures and then rents out; and bigger offshore boats comprise the third class.

The Aqua races, he noted, are “a bit cooler, would you say,” as the competitors are “a lot younger.”