Orange Beach Offshore Boat Races

By John Mullen

January 21, 2020 – Orange Beach, AL – (OBA®) – For the first time since 2013, boats could be screaming by beaches crowded with race fans there and on condo balconies with races on schedule to return to Orange Beach in April.

If organizers Gary Nichols and Race World Offshore 2020 race Director Damon Collins have their way the big boats will return during April 17-19 or the weekend before the Flora-Bama’s iconic Mullet Toss weekend. Collins said the course will remain basically the same – it will start just east of Perdido Pass and go west for a little over 3 miles mile and then a loop back to the pass – but it may be extended some for the 2020 races.

“We’re working on getting the boat races back in Orange Beach, putting the preliminary planning together and hopefully we’ll have a race that third week in April in Orange Beach,” Collins said. “The big thing to make it a success we’re going to need local sponsors and volunteers. It’s a large effort and we’re going to need the support of the community to make it happen as we have in the past.”

Currently, planning is starting from scratch with several logistical problems to be solved including where and how the boats will be launched. One thing is certain, Collins said, is the fun of the races and all the events that come along with them will be fun for the fans.

Miss Geico

“There will be spectator locations for the dry pits and the boat launch,” Collins said. “We’re planning a couple of block parties, some events at some of the local venues around the area and possibly a concert. We’ve got a couple of things lined up we’re working on right now. We have a parade scheduled that week, too.”

The parades in the past have included boats being trailered through The Wharf for fans to check out up close and personal.

“Just a whole week of great events for race fans and visitors to the city,” Nichols added.

The goal is to have as many as 30 boats with concentration on the bigger ones in the series. Nichols said 30 racing teams have signed up for the April races here. Orange Beach is slated as the season opener with four other events during the year concluding with Key West in November.

“We’ve got an organization we’re working with called Race World Offshore,” Collins said. “They’ve had races in New York, Sarasota, Clearwater and Key West. They’re going to put on a great show and have been putting on a great show and they’re going to bring that show to Orange Beach.”

Collins said the group is nailing down some specifics on the event and is expecting to make announcements on more concrete plans soon including how to volunteer to help with the races.

Local tourism officials are excited about the possible return of the races to the area.

“Thunder on the Gulf has a long history of generating excitement along Alabama’s beaches, and we’re looking forward to its revival,” Herb Malone, president and CEO for Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism, said. “The intersection of boating and sports is a fun way to speak to multiple audiences. We’re excited to showcase this event.”

GSOBT and Sports Commission vice president of sales, Beth Gendler, said the races offer an excellent way to showcase the area’s greatest asset.

“Events like this allow us to promote and highlight a natural venue - the water,” Gendler said. “Watersport is a potential growth area for sports and events particularly outside our peak summer season to positively impact local businesses in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach.”

Information on how to be a volunteer to put on the event will be forthcoming soon, Collins said.

Photos from the October 15, 2010 Races