Offshore powerboat racing is a sport where ocean-going power boats compete in point to point racing. The sport is over a century old and has gained popularity because of the exhilaration and risks that it involves. Power boat racing is led by the Union Internationale Motonautique (UIM) in Europe, Asia, and Middle East. In the USA the American Power Boat Association (APBA) is the main governing body. Private funding as well as commercial sponsors finance the sport.
History Of Offshore Powerboat Racing
The sport was formed in 1903, when Automobile Club of Great Britain along with the Marine Motor Association hosted a race of auto boats. Power boat racing did not exist at that time, and the winner of the race was presented with the Hamsworth trophy.
Offshore power boat racing got recognition as a sport when a race of power boats took place from the South-eastern coast of England to Calais, France in 1904. The first race in the USA took place in California in 1911 after the formation of the American Power Boat Association.
Gradually, the sport started becoming popular. During World War I and II, the sport lost its charm in Europe as people recovered from the after effects of the war. It took time for the sport to return to its old popularity. During the 1950’s and 1960’s, the sport started soaring again and more events began taking place. With races being run over a long distance, navigators were considered to be very important members of the crew.
Modern power boat racing has evolved to include different categories of boats based on engine size. Today races are short and provide a better viewing experience for spectators.
UIM Class One World Power Boat Championship
It is considered to be the most renowned series of races in powerboat racing. The boats used in the races have twin-engines and can go as fast as 200 miles per hour. The championship consists of eight races at four different venues.
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P1 Superstock Championship
The P1 Superstock Championship is an international class of power boat racing. It is one of the most affordable and competitive forms of motor boat racing. The race is broadcast to audience over 100 countries and receives the most media coverage. The entire championship is spread over five to six weekends in May through October. The events attract a lot spectators because the races are held close to the shore and the events are free.
UIM Powerboat GPS World Championship
The championship which started in Nettuno, Italy in 2003 is considered to be the first Grand Prix of the Sea. The championship continued till 2009. It was cancelled in 2010 and since then UIM has taken over the series management and the championship now continues in the name of Powerboat GPS. The race involves Evolution class and Supersport class, V-type monohull boats.
Dangers Of The Sport
Offshore powerboat racing is one of the most dangerous sports in the world. The racers must be able to navigate the boats at high speeds so they do not meet with any fatal accidents. While the race authorities ensure complete safety and continue to educate the racers on the importance of safety, crashes are often seen as inevitable. When this happens, medical helicopters and paramedics immediately arrive to rescue the racers.
The crash rescue is an exciting part of the race where the audience is on their toes watching to see if the racers are safely evacuated. Safety boats are always ready to quickly release racers who are trapped in the accidents. Offshore powerboat racing has seen many racers lose their lives. Boat manufacturing companies continue to build safer boats to minimize the accidents.
Offshore powerboat racing is a sport that is enjoyed by many boat racing enthusiasts around the world. The thrill of the sport makes it worth the risks. Racers are learning from the accidents and try to avoid the dangers as they gain experience in the sport. The race authorities have also evolved as they learn from the past racing events. In a sport where racers not only have to compete with their opponents, but also match the unforgiving waters, offshore power boat racing is becoming more popular by the day.
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Header image credit: “Class1 Oostende” by Rennbootarchiv Schulze.