Written by John M. Janokaitis For FLORIDA TODAY
COCOA BEACH — Memorial weekend is less than a week away, but some very special memories were made Sunday at the third annual Thunder on the Beach Space Coast Super Boat Grand Prix off the coast of Cocoa Beach.
Still in its infancy, the Grand Prix has made a positive impact to both spectators and businesses alike, according to those who packed the shores and waterway for Sunday’s finale.
On a perfect Chamber of Commerce afternoon, blue skies merged with aquamarine waters to paint the perfect backdrop as many of the world’s fastest boats glided across the Atlantic Ocean and the expected crowd of 60,000-plus savored every moment.
“I work in the service industry, serving and caring for the racers, and (Saturday) was pretty intense,” said Pedro Cabra as he enjoyed a beverage at the Cocoa Beach Pier. “There are a lot of people in town and everybody is super nice and happy for the boat races.”
Cabral, a 26-year old resident of Cape Canaveral, is employed by Fishlips in Port Canaveral, the home base for many of the event’s activities.
“(At Fishlips) you get to meet them; they hang out over there and each team is like a family working together,” Cabral said. “And the tips are really good!”
For others, like Mike Rego and his son, Nick, the races were an opportunity to renew long-distance relationships.
“Nick is in the Coast Guard and this is the first time he’s had a chance to come home and stay,” said Mike Rego.
“I told him the weather’s been great and he needed to get down here — and then it rained for about four or five days straight.”
Light storms threatened the event’s downtown party in Cocoa Beach on Thursday evening, but it’s been sunshine and clear skies ever since.
For the Regos, it also provided a chance to share a drink on the Cocoa Beach Pier while enjoying the sights and sounds of powerful boats roaring toward the first turn at Lori Wilson Park.
“It’s great to get out and it’s something we can do together,” said Nick Rego.
Nick departs for Charleston, S.C., Tuesday, but his father said they have already made plans for next year.