Technical Tidbits: Grand-Prix of the Sea
Historically off-shore boat racing was for well-to-do hobbyists looking for trophies and bragging rights. Normally the boats were not even visible to the spectators on shore except for the start and the finish which occasionally were located in different geographical areas. More often than not the owner with the biggest wallet — who could afford the best equipment and crew — was the one whose boat frequented the winners circle.
In 2003 a European businessman came up with a unique idea to make boat racing an organized sport where the boats and motors were identical. This allowed for the drivers’ skill, luck, and strategy to be the deciding factors between first place and the rest of the pack. In addition making the equipment reasonably affordable and paying out enough winnings to help defray costs added to its attractiveness. Thus P1 Superstock boat racing was born and soon matured in Europe.
Three years ago P1 Superstock racing arrived in America. Under the direction of Azam Rangoonwala, the son of P1’s founder, it has grown in popularity and size. With the races now shown on the Fox Sun Sports cable channel, it is fast becoming the nation’s #3 spectator motor-sport behind automobile and motorcycle racing.
The appeal of this type of competition is several-fold. For the spectators it is held near shore on a closed course ensuring visibility of the whole race and to catch all of the action. For the teams the appeal is the relatively economical price of the equipment including a lease option of under $10,000 annually. This leasing opportunity permits someone to participate in racing with only a moderate outlay of money. The stock boats and motors have low maintenance costs and the generous prize money payout – about $12,000 per event—permit teams to earn money during a successful season. P1 Superstock is unlike other forms of boat racing where a sizeable monetary expenditure for merely receiving a trophy is the norm.
To protect the environment extra care is taken to safeguard sea-life with spotter boats and helicopters. They are vigilant for any creatures who may wander near the course and to keep people or other vessels from venturing too close. Races come to a halt instantly if there is any encroachment into the restricted area and resume after the course is cleared. The Evinrude E-TEC outboards powering the boats meet EPA regulations, do not emit smoke, and achieve clean-air emission guidelines mandated by the government. They also conform to the strict European Union (EU) emissions requirements making the engines legal for worldwide racing.
There are father-son teams, husband & wife teams, and individuals, both men and women, who make up the sport. They consider themselves as family and look forward to the camaraderie as well as to competing on race weekends. The contestants help each other with their boats and even lend spare parts to a fellow competitor allowing that person to participate in an event.
The race craft are a specially designed 26′ Panther manufactured in Florida and an Evinrude E-TEC 250 HO outboard supplies the power. Diligent inspections insure that the boats and motors are identical and completely stock. The top 4 finishers of each race have their boats weighed to be certain they are not less than the minimum 1665 kilograms – approximately 3660 pounds. Propellers are then confiscated and retained by officials until the next race. They are lab-finished and frequently inspected by a propeller shop to be exactly the same plus the drivers do not know which prop they will use until assigned one shortly before practice.
A P1 Superstock recent event held in August near Port Canaveral, Florida provided enthusiasts with a weekend of fun-filled racing. The venue was located near the port to afford race fans gorgeous views of cruise ships, freighters, seagulls, and other beach-goers in addition to the race itself. The choppy waters launched the boats airborne at times adding to the excitement.
Between the two daily P1 Superstock races, Aqua-Cross (AQUA-X) consisting of several classes of personal water-craft races made for a full afternoon of additional competitions. Think of it as Moto-Cross over the waves. In the near future inflatable rigid boats, also known as RIBs, may be added to the P1 race schedule. That would make for a whole day of exciting speed-contests for everyone to enjoy.
To see Evinrudes in action, close-quarters competition, fantastic scenery, plus have a great time at the beach, attend a P1 Superstock race. You will enjoy it. If you do not live near a scheduled event, check your cable company for the Fox Sun Channel to catch the videos of the season highlights.
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