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Letters, week of Oct. 2

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Incredible support for powerboat races

Organizing a sporting event and extravaganza that attracts 60,000 weekend spectators is by its very nature a challenge, whether it takes place in a hockey arena, a football stadium, a major league ballpark or basketball coliseum.

What’s even more daunting is pulling it off at a venue that straddles an international border.

That unique feat was accomplished last month when the sister cities of Port Huron and Sarnia again served as co-hosts for the 2014 International Offshore Powerboat Race.

A weekend of racing- think of it as a NASCAR on the water- took place on the broad and blue waters of the St. Clair River, one of the world’s busiest shipping channels as well as a mid-continent Main Street for recreational boaters.

This was the fourth year for The International, and record spectators lined the river to watch the high-speed action.  As the race weekend began, the two cities rocked with crowds swarming to concerts and festivals on both waterfronts.

As always, the international flavor makes this a truly special event.  For a weekend, Sarnia and Port Huron become a single community, united in celebrating our magnificent waterfront, a God-given treasure that makes this a special place to live.  We truly are so fortunate!

How does an international sporting event come to fruition?

First, it takes generous sponsors, both financial angels and in-kind contributors who quietly stepped up to the plate.  Unlike just about every other professional sports event, the offshore powerboat races are free to spectators because of the support of our sponsors.

Planning and coordinating the event requires dedicated volunteers on both sides of the border, two teams working together with a common purpose.  The co-organizer and co-chairs with passionate organizing committees from the Sarnia and Port Huron teams did amazing work- mission accomplished! A massive thank you!

As the event’s international coordinator, I would like to express gratitude to the safety-logistics teams that kept watch over a fun-filled weekend.  The Canadian and U.S. Coast Guards and law-enforcement officers and customs and border security from both Michigan and Ontario are dedicated professionals who deserve highest praise.

The mayors and city managers along with their staff of both cities joined with other elected officials in offering tremendous support for The International Event.  And I would be remiss not to praise Ed “Smitty” Smith and his team of pros at the Offshore Power Boat Association (New Jersey), whose talented and daring racers electrified the crowds.

Credit also goes to those thousands of fans from across Ontario and Michigan who did their part to make it a fun and fabulous weekend with no reports of serious incidents.

Looking ahead, there’s every reason to believe this International Event will continue to grow in popularity in coming years.

On and off the water, it’s a great time, a combination of racing thrills with festive riverside concerts and entertainment orchestrated by true professionals.  And the word as a result of the phenomenal media coverage has gotten out about how warm and welcoming the Sarnia and Port Huron communities are to visitors as we extended the “Welcome Mats”.

As the organizers of The International Event, we are committed to keeping it “FREE” to the public in future years.  We believe we have a winning formula that begins with incredible community support, and for that, we thank you.

 Dave Brown is founder and international race coordinator of the International Offshore Powerboat Race


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