It’s that time of year again. The powerboats come to town to vie for the World Championship after a long season. The championships have been in Key West for twenty-seven years and everyone looks forward to the excitement and partying.

Actually, my first trip to Key West was to see the races about seven years ago. Not only did I have a great time, I immediately fell in love with the little tropical island and it’s people. It was three years ago that I moved here, although I do spend a few months up north each summer.

The boats and pit activity is all down at the “Outer Mole” at the old submarine basin located at the other side of Truman Annex. You can purchase tickets to view the races from there and get “up close & personal” with the drivers, throttlemen and crews.

The race course is one of the best for viewing as the boats blast by at high speed, only a stones throw away. I personally prefer watching from the Westin (formally the Hilton), right next to Mallory Square, where I can sip on a drink and use their clean restrooms between heats. And I’ve reserved a race front table and tried their Sunday brunch for the past two years… it was a fantastic view and exquisite food!

Watching is exhilarating as they fly by, jumping wakes, skimming across the water. It’s fun watching the helicopters, too. They hover just above the boats, all the way around the course, with divers ready to splash at the first sign of trouble. I’ve seen some scary flips and collisions over the years.

There is something about the racing crowd that is difficult to explain in words. They are fun loving, intriguing, exuberant, generous, dangerous, playful… the list can go on forever. It’s really a lot of fun to be part of it, at the races and in the bars!

The other fun part for me is that I get to see many of my friends from up north. A lot of them make the trek for race week and I usually get free drinks well into the evening, as we reminisce and tell stories.

The bartenders in town love the power boaters. They drink a lot and tip very well most of the time, unlike the sail boaters that sweep into town in January. But that’s fodder for a future story. Actually there are a few weeks in a row that make the bars happy… Fantasy Fest, the Parrot Head Convention and the Power Boat Races all occur one after the other.

It’s good for the Key West tourism business as October and November are not considered “in season” for tourism. In fact they are in hurricane season, but we have been lucky with little storm activity for a couple of years now.

If you’ve never been to Key West for the races, I genuinely recommend it. But make your reservations well in advance and leave the kids home; promise to take them to Disney World later.