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Probably one of the largest, most dangerous, and most powerful racing machines of all, the extreme expense of the boats and the fuel required to participate make it an expensive and elite sport.
Many different types and classes of boats can compete in individual races, on the same course, at the same time. Offshores have widely been known as a "Rich man's" sport, however, now even people with normal pleasure boats can compete in some newly formed classes (with minor safety modifications). This may include single or twin piston engine V-bottom boats, single or twin piston engine catamaran style boats, four piston engine boats, and turbine boats. Depending on the class, speeds varies from 65 mph (105 km/h) to 250 mph (400 km/h).
In the USA, offshore powerboat racing is led by the APBA/UIM and consists of races hosted by OPA Racing, OSS, and P1).
Although there are team sponsors, the sport is still an amateur sport financed by a mixture of private funding and commercial sponsors. One of the benefits of sponsoring an offshore powerboat team, as stated by team owner and driver Bjørn Rune Gjelsten, is that in Formula One motor racing, 1 million will only allow a small space, whereas in offshore powerboating, this covers the whole of the boat.
The sport is moving more to a circuit racing style also known in the USA as "run what you brung", which makes for a better TV and spectator experience, though there are still old fashioned endurance offshore racing classes.
Offshore powerboat racing was first 'recognised' as a sport when, in 1904, a race took place from the south-eastern coast England to Calais, France. In the United States, the APBA (American Power Boat Association) was formed during that period. The USA's first recorded race was in 1911, in California.
The sport increased in popularity over the next few years in the United States, with 10 races being scheduled during the 1917 season. The sport's growth was disrupted in Europe during World War I and then again in World War II, but it began to grow again rapidly on both sides of the Atlantic in the 1950s and 1960s.
The sport entered the 'modern' era in the 1960s, with notable names like Jim Wynn, Don Aronow, and Dick Bertram competing in mammoth events such as the Bahamas 500-mile (800 km) race. During that time, the 'navigator' position in the raceboat was extremely important (unlike in today's small, track-like circuits), as finding small checkpoints over a hundred mile open ocean run was a difficult endeavor.
The list of 'modern' world champions extended into the 1980s, when the sport entered the catamaran, and then the 'superboat' era - the 1000 cubic inch total engine displacement restrictions were lifted for boats over 45 feet (14 m) in length, and soon three- and four-engine boats sporting F16 fighter canopies replaced the venerable 35-to-40-foot-deep (11 to 12 m) vee hulls that had been the sport's top category for twenty years.
Modern races are short, 'track' style events with much improved viewing for the spectators, and the different categories of boats have multiplied far beyond the 4 classes that were common through much of the 60's, 70's, and 80's.
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Class 1 World Powerboat Championship is often referred to as the equivalent of Formula 1 motor racing as it is the pinnacle of offshore powerboat racing. It combines technology and driving skills to produce a spectacular race series. Class 1 has come a long way technologically since first being sanctioned by the U.I.M. in 1964. Shortly after its advent, Americans Jim Wynne, Dick Bertram and Don Aronow led the battle for technological supremacy, with Daytona, Mercruiser, and AeroMarine power plants reigning supreme. But in the 1980s, the pendulum swung to witness a period of European design dominance. Don Shead's Aluminium monohulls, Italian manufacturers Picchiotti and CUV, and the James Beard-Clive Curtis Cougar catamarans set the record. Fabio Buzzi took a giant step forward with the introduction of glass-reinforced polymer hulls, turbo-charged engines, and integral surface drives and the 90's subsequently saw the emergence of the Michael Peter's design and Tencara and Victory hulls dominate, with Sterling, Lamborghini, Seatek and more recently, Mercury sharing the power battle. Today, state-of-the-art boat design and leading-edge technology are pushing the barriers and extending the boundaries of the modern-day racers in their relentless pursuit of competitive excellence.
In 2012, it was announced that a new series of 'ultra-marathon' offshore races would be run every two years under the title of the Venture Cup. The first race was scheduled to take place in June 2013 from Cowes in the UK to Monte Carlo, which reflects what many consider to have been the greatest powerboat race ever - the 1972 London to Monte-Carlo race. The Venture Cup is billed as the World's longest, toughest and most prestigious powerboat race and they currently have teams from over 18 countries entered. The 2013 race was however cancelled and replaced by a Prologue. The race has been rescheduled for 2014 and the plans have been altered so the start will take place in London, as in 1972.
P1 SuperStock is one of the fastest-growing marine motorsport series in the world. It’s also one of the most affordable, most accessible and most competitive forms of motorsport, with international recognition and guaranteed media exposure. P1 SuperStock is approved by the sport’s governing body, the Union Internationale Motonautique (UIM), as an international class of powerboat racing.
P1 SuperStock is a major sporting festival over five or six weekends in May through October. There are up to six races over the race weekend, lasting 30–45 minutes each. The free events attract thousands of spectators. And, as the race courses are close to shore, tight and fast, it’s a great sight to watch.It’s also a serious challenge for the teams.
Powerboat P1 Management Ltd is the rights-holder for P1 SuperStock. We have eight years’ experience in delivering over 85 world championship races in 12 countries. Powerboat P1 Management Ltd also owns the rights to: – Powerboat P1 World Championship – P1 Aqua X
In the USA, a wholly owned subsidiary, P1 USA, manages all aspects of racing throughout North America.
The Boats 250+ hp Class This 28 ft (9 m) sport racer is powered by a 250+ hp engine. This propels the boat to speeds up to 70 mph (113 km/h) in flat water, and its lower centre of gravity provides greater stability and improved handling.
When you’re racing with the same boat, same engine, and same performance – the only difference between winning and losing is you. P1 SuperStock lets the pilots battle it out on the water through every turn and every wave jump. It’s an acid test of a team’s ability to command the boat through demanding conditions.
The series was officially founded as Powerboat P1 World Championship in May 2003 in Nettuno, Italy. Twelve boats, the majority of which were Italian, raced in the first-ever Grand Prix of the Sea. Starting out with 15-year-old aluminum boats, Powerboat P1 boats evolved dramatically through the decade to the point where the mono-hull twin-engine boats were kicking out around 1800 hp. During the Powerboat P1 World Championship era, which spanned 2003 to 2009, there was 40% more horsepower on a P1 starting grid than Formula 1.
In 2010, Powerboat P1 Management Ltd took the decision to cancel the championship. Instead the UIM took over the series' management and renamed it Powerboat GPS (Grand Prix of the Sea), continuing the championship.
The series is split between Evolution class and Supersport class. All the boats are V-type monohulls.
The Cowes-Torquay was launched by Sir Max Aitken, 2nd Baronet as the first offshore powerboat racing sport in Britain in 1961. Initially sponsored by the Daily Express newspaper, its success encouraged several countries in Europe and the Middle East to follow suit.
Hence it can rightly claim to have introduced offshore powerboat racing to the rest of the world outside the United States where the modern sport was launched with the first Miami-Nassau Race in 1956.
When the Union Internationale Motonautique, the world governing authority for powerboat racing, introduced the World Offshore Championship in 1967 as a memorial to Sam Griffith, the American founder of modern offshore racing, the course was found to be too short at 125 miles (201 km) to qualify as a championship heat.
The race format was therefore changed and instead of finishing at Torquay, the fleet returned no-stop back to Cowes, a pattern that remains to this day.
The race is currently organised by race director John Moore of the British Powerboat Racing Club and will be run on Sunday 1 September 2013.
The Round Britain Powerboat has been run on 3 previous occasions.
1459 miles, divided into 10 racing stages and one slow cruise; flat calm seas under blazing skies, a thick pea-souper fog, and a rough coastal run; 42 assorted boats ranging in power from 100 hp to 1,000 hp.
The most outstanding feature of this marathon race was undoubtedly the freak weather, it was called by most participants, for the first 700 miles to Oban the conditions were as near perfect as they could be, and the fog on the Inverness-Dundee run, and the rough seas of the Dundee-Whitby leg were greeted almost with glee.
Avenger Too, crewed by Timo Mäkinen, Pascoe Watson and Brian Hendicott, the Round Britain race was a success story from start to finish. They won the first leg to Falmouth and the second leg to Milford Haven; on the run to Douglas they were third, but still retained their overall lead. Only once during the entire race were they pushed from that leading position, and they had a such a handsome lead that they could afford to tuck in behind a slower radar-equipped boat on the foggy run to Dundee, and still emerge the leaders by two hours.
Their final victory, in a total time of just over 39 hours, represented an average speed, sustained over 1,381 nautical miles of racing, of 37.1 knots.
The Needles Trophy was first presented in 1932 and every year until 1938. A break until 1951, 1952, 1954, 1956. Then another break until 1967 until 1989 inclusive.
In more recent times these are a few of the very well known names and names known in the Powerboat Racing circle.
Winner 2003: Hannes Bohinc, Miles Jennings and Ed Williams-Hawkes
2009 saw a return to traditional Offshore Racing.