Key West Power Boat Races - Every year, the Key West Power Boat Races bring thrilling cigarette boats to town for 5 days of races and events. The November weather is beautiful, skies are clear, and there's a buzz in the air from all the excitement. If you've never attended the Key West Power Boat Races, it's a thrilling way to spend an afternoon if you happen to be in town. If you have a boat or you rent one while on vacation in Key West, it's even fun to be out on the water fishing or diving when they big boats are doing their practice runs. Be careful, though, especially if you're diving...they are big, fast boats and they wont' see you in the water. Use the required dive flag and hang it high! The boats and their helicopters do practice runs in front of Key West all day on non-race days and the sound of the huge engines is enough to thrill some poeple. Seeing a helipcopter fly so close to the big boats in amazing precision is also pretty cool.
Races are every other day during the week, with practice and registration days in between. They register at the waterfront at Truman Annex, then practice starting in Key West Harbor, going south towards Sand Key Lighthouse. In the past, the race course was different. It went east out of Key West Harbor, in front of the island, in front of Smather Beach. The boats racing back towards Key West Harbor, making a right turn off the tip of Fort Zachary, sometimes would flip making that curve. The combination of rough water, windy conditions, and the sharp turn made this occur. Now the course is safer and we don't see as many flips.
For those of you without a boat, or if you just prefer to watch and take photos from shore, you have a couple of choices in where you can go for viewing.
- You can pay $15 per person to get to the waterfront between Fort Zachary and Mallory Square, where they have bleachers set up
- You can pay just a few dollars for the entrance fee into For Zachary Taylor State Park and watch from the beach
- You can go to Mallory Square for free and squeeze into the crowd for a view from the water's edge
The consist of cigarette boats racing a loop course, along with their helicopters, with Key West Harbor at one end of the loop. Photographers will get good action shots by staking out a spot at Mallory Square, especially in the afternoon when the sun will be shining low over the boats as they race into Key West Harbor.