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Class1 offshore powerboat
Offshore powerboat racing is racing by large, specially designed ocean-going powerboats, typically point-to-point racing.

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.

In Europe, Middle East & Asia, offshore powerboat racing was led by the UIM regulated Class 1 but this category is no longer recognized by the sports governing body. It has re-organised itself and is instead regulated by the Dubai based WPPA, which now allows the sport to have a bigger variety in engines and props.

In the USA, offshore powerboat racing is split between the OPA Races, SBI/APBA/UIM races and the OSS races.

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.

Depending on the class, speeds varies from to .

The sport is moving more to a circuit racing style also known as "run what you brung", which makes for a better TV & spectator experience, though there are still old fashioned endurance offshore racing classes.

History of the Sport

Offshore powerboat racing was first 'recognized' 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 WW1 and then again in WW2, but it began to grow again rapidly on both sides of the Atlantic in the 50's and 60's.

The sport entered the 'modern' era in the 60's, with notable names like Jim Wynn, Don Aronow, and Dick Bertram competing in mammoth events such as the Bahamas 500 mile 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 catameran, and then the 'superboat' era - the 1000 cubic inch total engine block restrictions were lifted for boats over 45' in length, and soon 3 and 4 engine boats sporting f16 fighter canopies replaced the venerable 35-40 foot deep 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.

Offshore Race Series

Powerboat P1:

Powerboat P1 , the UIM sanctioned world championship is one of the fastest growing powerboat series in the world. Founded in 2003 with 5 boats it now has 20+ teams from 11 countries.It caters for monohull boats with twin inboard engines in two classes:

Supersport - for open top production models which are limited to for safety reasons.

Evolution - fully canopied prototype boats with no speed limit.

Engines can be either petrol or diesel depending on the team choice or the manufacturer's recommendation. A P1 grand prix consists of two races, the Sprint, and the Endurance over .The teams with most points over two races win the overall Grand Prix and take the prize money and the championship points.

Class One World Powerboat Championship:

Offshore powerboat racing is often referred to as the equivalent of Offroad racing as they both combine human and technological endurance 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 pace. 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.

Famous Offshore Powerboat Races

Cowes Torquay Cowes:

The Cowes-Torquay launched offshore powerboat racing as a 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 125miles 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.

Round Britain Powerboat Race:

The Round Britain Powerboat has been run on 3 previous occasions - 1969, 1984 and 2008,the previous winners were Timo Mäkinen, Fabio Buzzi and Vassilis Pateras.

The 4th Round Britain Powerboat Race will take place in July 2012.Unlike its predecessors, in which competitors navigated the Caledonian Canalmarker, the 2012 race will entail a complete circumnavigation of Britainmarker making it, without doubt, the toughest endurance powerboat race in the world.

The Needles Trophy:

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.

In 1969: A. Pasco Watson.In 1972: Won by Tim Powell, HRH Prince Michael of Kent, William Meyers, Stirling Moss.In 1973: Keith Dallas.In 1980: Ted Toleman.In 1984 and 1987 Alex Foster raced in the winning boat.In 1988: Eduardo Poli.Then presented 1992: Richard CarrIn 1993: Andreas Ugland and Jann HillestadIn 1994: Marco and Massimo Capoferi.In 1996: Charles Burnett and Peter Dredge.In 2002: Peter Dredge and Ian Sanderson.

In 2004 The Royal Motor Yacht Club, decided to Award the NEEDLES TROPHY to a class of Powerboats who would race to the "Needles".

In 2004: Jackie Hunt and Mike Shelton.In 2005: John Cooke and Graham Lawton.

2009 saw a return to traditional Offshore Racing and the trophy was won by Drew Langdon in Silverline Buzzi Bullet.


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