Class 1 World Powerboat Championship

Last updated
ClassOne USA
CategoryTwin-engine Catamaran
CountryWorldwide
Inaugural season1964
Drivers(two per boat/driver-throttleman)
Teams9
Constructors Victory, Silverhook, MTI, Mystic, Doug Wright, etc.
Engine suppliers Mercury Marine Racing division
Drivers' champion Flag of the United States.svg James Sheppard
Flag of the United States.svg Steve Curtis
Teams' champion Flag of the United States.svg Team Miss GEICO
Official website www.oparacing.org

The UIM Class 1 World Powerboat Championship (also known as Class 1) is an international motorboat racing competition for powerboats organised by the Union Internationale Motonautique (UIM). It is the highest class of offshore powerboat racing in the world.

The Union Internationale Motonautique (UIM) is the international governing body of powerboating, based in the Principality of Monaco. It was founded in 1922, in Belgium, as the Union Internationale du Yachting Automobile.

Offshore powerboat racing

Offshore powerboat racing is a type of racing by ocean-going powerboats, typically point-to-point racing.

Contents

Class 1 is considered one of the most spectacular motorsports in the world. A Class 1 raceboat is twin-engined and can reach speeds in excess of 257 km/h (160 mph), with V12 engines limited in performance to 850 hp at 7600 rpm and V8 engines limited in performance to 850 hp at 6100 rpm. All boats are limited by a minimum weight of 4950 kg.

The sport of powerboat racing has undergone unprecedented change since early records of a race in 1887 in Nice, France, organized by the Paris Sailing Club. The French also claimed the next two recorded races in 1903, a 62-mile race in Meulan on the River Seine organized by the Poissy Sailing Club and a 230-mile race from Paris to Trouville. But the first officially recognized international offshore powerboat race was a 22-mile event from Calais, France to Dover, England.

Nice Prefecture and commune in Provence-Alpes-Côte dAzur, France

Nice is the seventh most populous urban area in France and the capital of the Alpes-Maritimes département. The metropolitan area of Nice extends beyond the administrative city limits, with a population of about 1 million on an area of 721 km2 (278 sq mi). Located in the French Riviera, on the south east coast of France on the Mediterranean Sea, at the foot of the Alps, Nice is the second-largest French city on the Mediterranean coast and the second-largest city in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region after Marseille. Nice is approximately 13 kilometres (8.1 mi) from the principality of Monaco and 30 kilometres (19 mi) from the French-Italian border. Nice's airport serves as a gateway to the region.

Paris Capital of France

Paris is the capital and most populous city of France, with an area of 105 square kilometres and an official estimated population of 2,140,526 residents as of 1 January 2019. Since the 17th century, Paris has been one of Europe's major centres of finance, diplomacy, commerce, fashion, science, and the arts. The City of Paris is the centre and seat of government of the Île-de-France, or Paris Region, which has an estimated official 2019 population of 12,213,364, or about 18 percent of the population of France. The Paris Region had a GDP of €709 billion in 2017. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit Worldwide Cost of Living Survey in 2018, Paris was the second most expensive city in the world, after Singapore, and ahead of Zürich, Hong Kong, Oslo and Geneva. Another source ranked Paris as most expensive, on a par with Singapore and Hong Kong, in 2018.

Calais Subprefecture and commune in Hauts-de-France, France

Calais is a city and major ferry port in northern France in the department of Pas-de-Calais, of which it is a sub-prefecture. Although Calais is by far the largest city in Pas-de-Calais, the department's prefecture is its third-largest city of Arras. The population of the metropolitan area at the 2010 census was 126,395. Calais overlooks the Strait of Dover, the narrowest point in the English Channel, which is only 34 km (21 mi) wide here, and is the closest French town to England. The White Cliffs of Dover can easily be seen on a clear day from Calais. Calais is a major port for ferries between France and England, and since 1994, the Channel Tunnel has linked nearby Coquelles to Folkestone by rail.

But the modern-era of offshore powerboat racing was kick-started on 6 May 1956 with the first running of the famous Miami-Nassau race, which would ultimately lead to the introduction of the Sam Griffith Memorial Trophy and a UIM sanctioned World Championship in 1964. From 1964 to 1976 the winner of the World Championship was decided by points gained from multiple races held at venues around the world. From 1977 to 1991 the winner was decided by series of races at a single event at the end of the year. The World Championship reverted to a multi-event format in 1992.

As of 2019, APBA sanctioned Class One racing is being held by OPA Racing and P1 Offshore under the name ClassOne USA, with catamarans racing strictly regulated sterndrive Mercury Racing 9.0L 1100 hp twin turbocharged V8 motors, and unlimited power for monohulls. Steve Curtis is still the defending champion with the most titles in history, now throttling for Miss GEICO, with rivals Victory always competing for dominance.

[1]

History

The fabled Miami-Nassau races were hailed as ‘the world’s most rugged ocean races’ and brought powerboat racing to the attention of the general public and signaled the beginning of modern offshore racing. These races also provided the sport with its first hero – Sam L. Griffith.

Class 1 Grand Prix Dubai 2012 Dubai Grand Prix - 2012.jpg
Class 1 Grand Prix Dubai 2012

The first Miami-Nassau race, run on 6 May 1956 was the brainchild of American race car promoter Capt. Sherman ‘Red’ Crise and yacht designer, "Dick" Richard Bertram. Of the eleven intrepid pioneers who entered this now famous 184-mile race, eight went the distance to complete the race. The first boat home after nine hours 20 minutes, at an average speed of 19.7 mph, was the Griffith-Bertram entry, Doodles II, a 34 ft wooden Chris Craft with two 215 hp Cadillac Crusader engines.

Richard Bertram American sailor and boat builder

Richard Howard "Dick" Bertram was a champion sailor on powerboats and racing yachts and a leading boat builder and broker. Born in East Orange, New Jersey, Bertram learned to sail at a young age with his parents on the waters of Barnegat Bay. He owned his first boat at age 8, sailed in his first race at age 10 and was skipper of intercollegiate championship boats while attending Cornell University. After college, Bertram continued competing in numerous races throughout the world and was notably referred to by Sports Illustrated as "one of the finest ocean racers anywhere". In 1947, Bertram relocated to Miami, FL, where he opened Richard Bertram & Company, a successful yacht brokerage firm. Among his clients were Aristotle Onassis, the Aga Khan, King Hussein of Jordan and Prince Bertil of Sweden. With his yacht brokerage business successful, Bertram continued racing and set standards in the World Offshore Powerboat circuit. Often, he raced in his own 31' Bertram Lucky Moppie. He founded Bertram Yacht, a Miami-based manufacturer of production pleasure boats, in 1960. Bertram Yacht began the first large production runs of boats with C. Raymond Hunt's revolutionary deep-V hull design. In 1963 Richard Bertram licensed International Marine of Scoresby, Victoria, Australia to manufacture Bertram yachts; however, he left Bertram Yacht in 1964 to focus on his brokerage business, and Bertram Yacht changed ownership several times in the decades after that.

Chris-Craft Boats historical company purchased by NAFI

Chris-Craft Boats was an American manufacturer of boats that was founded by Christopher Columbus Smith (1861–1939). The company was sold by the Smith family in 1960 to NAFI Corporation, which changed its name to Chris-Craft Industries in 1962. The current successor is Chris-Craft Corporation, which produces motorboats under the Chris-Craft name.

Griffith was a larger than life character who made the sport his own in those early years. He was regarded as ‘the man’ and before his untimely death in 1963 he would win four Miami-Nassau races, break Gar Wood’s 41-year-old Miami-New York powerboat record and capture the Around Long Island Marathon. Many have since sought to emulate his skills and when Class 1 came of age in 1964 with a UIM sanctioned World Drivers’ Championship it was his name that was selected to adorn the trophy that is today the sport’s biggest prize.

During the 1950s the Americans had the sport to themselves laying claim to the three major offshore races in existence, the Miami-Nassau, the Around Long Island Marathon and the Miami-Key West. But in the early 60s Europe entered the fray to challenge the Americans. Publisher Sir Max Aitken, inspired by the Miami-Nassau, established the Cowes-Torquay in the English Channel on August 19, 1961, with victory in the inaugural 179-mile race going to Tommy Sopwith in Thunderbolt.

A year later the Italians added their challenge with the staging of the 198-mile Viareggio-Bastia-Viareggio, which was won by an Italian ex-navy submarine commander, Attilio Petroni, in A’ Speranziella. Over the next thirty years an enduring struggle ensued between the three founding nations for racing supremacy.

In the 20 years following its recognition by the Union Internationale Motonautique (UIM) and the inception of the Sam Griffith Trophy in 1964, the Americans were at the forefront of the sport’s technological development.

Jim Wynne, Dick Bertram and Don Aronow led the way with the Daytona, Mercruiser and Aeromarine powerplants reigning supreme. During this period the Americans posted thirteen champions and the Italians six. Count Vincenzo Balestrieri Cosimelli, from Rome, Italy, was the first non-American to win the coveted trophy in 1968. Balestrieri repeated in 1970, winning his second title. Wally Franz, a Brazilian, won the title in 1975 with an American boat, engine, transmission and throttleman. In 1978 Italy’s Francesco Cosentino took the title in a boat designed by Don Shead and built on the Mediterranean at Viareggio, the spiritual home of Italian offshore powerboat racing, marking the first time that a Class 1 World Champion won the title in equipment not of American origin, nor assembled and tended by American engineers.

Viareggio Comune in Tuscany, Italy

Viareggio is a city and comune in northern Tuscany, Italy, on the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea. With a population of over 62,000, it is the second largest city within the province of Lucca, after Lucca.

In the 1970s the pendulum swung to witness a period of European design dominance. Don Shead’s aluminum monohulls from Enfield, Italian manufacturers Picchiotti and CUV and the James Beard – Clive Curtis Cougar catamarans set the pace. The European resurgence was completed by the genius of Fabio Buzzi, whose quantum leap into fiberglass hulls, turbo-charged Aifo Iveco and Seatek diesel engines, and integral surface drive transmissions through his FB Corse concern proved unbeatable.

The decade of the 90s witnessed the emergence of the Michael Peters-designed, Tencara and Victory built hulls that dominated the honors lists with the American Sterling, the Italian Lamborghini petrol and the Seatek diesel engines sharing the power battle.

In 1992 the Championship reverted to a multi-event competition and in the following years the diversity of nationalities claiming the World Drivers’ Championship swelled in numbers including America, England, Italy, Monaco, Norway, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Thirty three titles have been won by Americans, 19 by Italians, 15 by competitors from the UAE, eight by Britons, six by Norwegians, two by competitors from Monaco and Puerto Rico and one each by representatives from Brazil, Finland and Saudi Arabia. Five champions have taken their titles as novices in their first season in Class 1 racing and four driver/throttleman partnerships have managed back-to-back titles: Bonomi/Powers in 1973/1974, S Al Tayer/Serralles in 1995/1996, Gjelsten/Curtis in 2002/2003 and Al Zafeen/Bin Hendi in 2009/2010.

Gjelsten and Curtis are the only partnership to win the title five times – including the hat-trick 2002/2003/2004 – and Steve Curtis the only man to clinch the world title eight times. Nadir Bin Hendi is the only other racer to win a hat-trick of World titles. The world title was not awarded in 1990, as a mark of respect for Stefano Casiraghi who died while defending his title in Monaco.

Twenty-three titles have been won in monohulls and 24 in catamarans. Of these winning boats, 35 have been built out of fiberglass, eight in aluminum and four in wood. Petrol engines have powered 40 winners and diesels the remaining seven.

Three early titles went to boats using conventional propeller shafts but the more efficient, fully trimable Mercruiser stern drives have accounted for twenty titles while the more recently introduced surface drives make up the remainder.

Propeller design has seen the early three-bladed bronze wheels superseded by stainless steel props of up to six blades for maximum efficiency and a top team might carry twelve pairs of props of differing pitches and diameters to accommodate differing sea conditions, fuel loads and handling characteristics.

Speeds have altered beyond all recognition. In the early 1960s, races were regularly won at averages of below 30 mph (48 km/h) but it was the advent of catamarans in the 1980s that allowed the magic barrier of 100 mph (160 km/h) to be regularly exceeded and now, winning averages of 125 mph (200 km/h) or more are not unusual.

This quest for speed has produced boats, engines and transmission systems which are more sophisticated and the use of Fibre Reinforced Polymer (FRP) with advanced composites using Kevlar and carbon fibre has made them safer.

The crews of yesteryear stood up to the elements as they struggled with navigation, throttles and the wheel, taking a battering from the elements with little protection. Today’s drivers and throttlemen enjoy the advantages of being strapped securely into body-hugging race seats within safety cells beneath lexan canopies borrowed from the aerospace industry, while monitoring their progress on equally advanced Global Positioning Systems (GPS).

Yesterday’s racers were amateur sportsmen and women, pioneers who looked the part. Today’s crews wear fireproof overalls, driving boots, have helmets plumbed with intercommunicating radios and compete in boats that only go afloat to test or race and are prepared and maintained by a crew of professional engineers. [2]

The Boats

Weighing in at around 5 tonnes, each boat in the Class 1 fleet is approximately 12-14m in length, 3.5m wide, and constructed using composite materials.

Over the years, safety has become a key concern and today’s Class 1 boats are the safest they have ever been. The quest for speed has produced boats, engines and transmission systems which are inevitably more sophisticated, and the use of Fibre reinforced polymer(FRP) with advanced composites using kevlar and carbon fibre has made them safer.

Manufacturers Maritimo, MTI, Outerlimits, Tencara and Victory make up the fleet. All boats run petrol engines – Lamborghini-SKEMA or SCAM 8.2 liter V12s, Mercury or Outerlimits V8s, with the Victory Team running the Victory 8.2 liter V12.

Inside the cockpit, satellite GPS systems, trim indicators, engine data dashboards and instrument panels and warning lights keep the crew aware of the boat’s progress during a race.

The cockpit is reinforced to withstand enormous impacts that may occur if a boat crashes at speeds in excess of 150 mph, with an escape hatch in the hull as an added safety feature in the event of an accident.

While a Class 1 raceboat is highly technical and state-of-the-art, and its overall performance is dependent on design, aero and hydro dynamics, choice of propeller and gear ratio selection, the relationship between driver and throttleman, who navigate and control the power, must provide direct input to adjust trim and drive settings during a race or official qualifying, is ultimately the defining factor and crucial to performance.

The Crews

Each boat has a two-man crew; the driver who navigates and steers the boat and a throttleman who dictates the speed and attitude, controlling the throttles and the trim.

It is a combination that requires total trust – imagine driving a car and the person beside you has control of the accelerator – and a close working relationship.[ citation needed ] Spectators may imagine that the crew simply jump into the cockpit, and it’s the guys who drive quickest that can win.[ citation needed ] A simple enough theory, but one that doesn’t take into account the skills and professionalism of pilots who regularly hurtle across the waves at over 160 mph/250kmh.[ citation needed ]

Both pilots work closely with their pit crews to determine the race set-up: the type of propeller required for the conditions, gear ratio settings’, the amount of fuel needed and race tactics. Propeller choice is critical and can win or lose not only a race, but also a championship.[ citation needed ]

The Championship

A Class 1 season consists of a series Grands Prix, made up of three official practice sessions, one official qualifying session which is also known as Pole Position and two races. The results of each race are combined to determine the winner of the World Championship. The European Championship and the Middle East Championship are defined by specific events in those geographic regions. The results in official qualifying determine the winner of the Pole Position Championship.

Eight races at four venues make up the UIM Class 1 World Powerboat Championship, with races run over approximately 55 or 75 Nm of multiple laps of approx 5 Nm (including one or two mandatory long laps).[ citation needed ]

The World Championship is awarded to the team with the most accumulated points throughout the season. A winning crew collects 20 points, the runners-up 15, with the third-placed team awarded 12 points.[ citation needed ]

Other positions are awarded points on a sliding scale (9, 7, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1) to the tenth-placed finisher. Bonus points are also awarded – one point per engine – for running the same engines in race 2 for two consecutive Grand Prix.[ citation needed ]

A Grand Prix weekend is run over three days, with registration, technical scrutineering and the first practice session and driver briefings taking place on day one.[ citation needed ]

On day two a practice session is run in the morning, followed immediately by the Edox Pole Position (qualifying), also counting as a separate championship, and Race 1 in the afternoon.[ citation needed ]

The Edox Pole Position, like the practice sessions, is run over the Grand Prix course, giving the crews a further opportunity to familiarize themselves with circuits and conditions, and to decide on set-up. It acts as the qualifier for the line-up for Race 1, with the Pole-sitter (fastest time) lining-up closest to the official start boat. The Edox Pole Position lasts for 45 minutes, with teams having to complete a minimum of one timed lap and allowed to return to the wet pits to make adjustments to set-up, but limited to a total of 10 minutes under the crane.[ citation needed ]

On day three, a final practice session in the morning is followed in the afternoon by Race 2. Each race is started by a Nor-Tech 3600 supercat official pace boat, running at a controlled speed, which lead the boats from the wet pits and into a line-abreast under a yellow flag or amber flashing light, a green flag denoting the race start, with the finishing order of the Edox Pole Position dictating the line-up of the boats for Race 1 and the finishing order of Race 1, the start order for Race 2.[ citation needed ]

Each race consists of approximately 11–15 laps and is 55–75 Nm in length, including one or two mandatory long laps.[ citation needed ]

Winners

[3]

EditionYearDriverHullMotor
11964 Flag of the United States.svg Jim Wynne WynneDaytona
21965 Flag of the United States.svg Richard Bertram Bertram Detroit Diesel
31966 Flag of the United States.svg Jim WynneWynneDaytona
41967 Flag of the United States.svg Don Aronow Flag of the United States.svg Norris House Magnum Mercruiser
51968 Flag of Italy.svg Vincenzo Balestrieri Flag of the United States.svg Don Pruett Magnum Mercruiser
61969 Flag of the United States.svg Don Aronow Flag of the United States.svg Norris House Cary Mercruiser
71970 Flag of Italy.svg Vincenzo Balestrieri – Flag of the United States.svg Jack Stuteville Cary Mercruiser
81971 Flag of the United States.svg William Wishnick – Flag of the United States.svg Robert Moore Cigarette Mercruiser
91972 Flag of the United States.svg Bobby Rautbord – Flag of the United States.svg Robert Moore Cigarette Mercruiser
101973 Flag of Italy.svg Carlo Bonomi Flag of the United States.svg Richie Powers Cigarette Aeromarine
111974 Flag of Italy.svg Carlo Bonomi – Flag of the United States.svg Richie Powers Cigarette Aeromarine
121975 Flag of Brazil.svg Wallace Franz – Flag of the United States.svg Robert Moore Bertram Aeromarine
131976 Flag of the United States.svg Tom Gentry – Flag of the United States.svg Richie Powers Cigarette Aeromarine
141977 Flag of the United States.svg Betty Cook Flag of the United States.svg John Connor Scarab Mercruiser
151978 Flag of Italy.svg Francesco Cosentino Flag of Italy.svg Alberto DiridoniPicchiotti Mercruiser
161979 Flag of the United States.svg Betty Cook Flag of the United States.svg John ConnorCougar Mercruiser
171980 Flag of the United States.svg Michel Meynard – Flag of the United States.svg Robert IdoniCougar Mercruiser
181981 Flag of the United States.svg Jerry Jacoby Flag of the United States.svg Keith Hazell Cigarette Hawk
191982 Flag of Italy.svg Renato Della Valle Flag of Monaco.svg Gianfranco RossiCUV Mercruiser
201983 Flag of the United States.svg Tony Garcia – Flag of the United States.svg Keith HazellCougarRahilly Grady
211984 Flag of Italy.svg Alberto Petri Flag of Italy.svg Franco StatuaCUV Mercruiser
221985 Flag of the United States.svg A.J. Roberts – Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Steve Curtis CougarKS & W
231986 Flag of Italy.svg Antonio Gioffredi Flag of Italy.svg Giovanni di Meglio Buzzi Aifo Iveco
241987 Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Steve Curtis Flag of the United States.svg W. FalconCougarKS & W
251988 Flag of Italy.svg Fabio Buzzi Flag of Italy.svg Romeo FerrarisBuzziSeatek
261989 Flag of Italy.svg Stefano Casiraghi Flag of Italy.svg Romeo FerrarisBuzziSeatek
271990not awarded
281991 Flag of Italy.svg Angelo Spelta Flag of Italy.svg Maurizio AmbrogettiCUV Isotta Fraschini
291992 Flag of Italy.svg Walter Ragazzi Flag of Finland.svg Jukka MattilaSkaterLightning
301993 Flag of the United Arab Emirates.svg Khalfan Harib – Flag of the United States.svg Ed Colyer Victory Sterling
311994 Flag of Italy.svg Norberto Ferretti Flag of Italy.svg Luca FerrariTencara Lamborghini
321995 Flag of the United Arab Emirates.svg Saeed Al Tayer – Flag of Puerto Rico.svg Felix Serralles Victory Sterling
331996 Flag of the United Arab Emirates.svg Saeed Al Tayer – Flag of Puerto Rico.svg Felix Serralles Victory Sterling
341997 Flag of Saudi Arabia.svg Laith Pharaon – Flag of the United States.svg John TomlinsonTencara Lamborghini
351998 Flag of Norway.svg Bjørn Rune Gjelsten Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Steve Curtis Tencara Lamborghini
361999 Flag of the United Arab Emirates.svg Ali Nasser – Flag of the United States.svg Randy Scism Victory Sterling
372000 Flag of the United Arab Emirates.svg Ali Nasser – Flag of the United Arab Emirates.svg Khalfan Harib Victory Steak
382001 Flag of the United Arab Emirates.svg Mohammed Al Marri – Flag of the United Arab Emirates.svg Saeed Al Tayer Victory Lamborghini
392002 Flag of Norway.svg Bjørn Rune Gjelsten Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Steve Curtis Tencara Lamborghini
402003 Flag of Norway.svg Bjørn Rune Gjelsten Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Steve Curtis Victory Lamborghini
412004 Flag of Norway.svg Bjørn Rune Gjelsten Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Steve Curtis Victory Lamborghini
422005 Flag of Norway.svg Bård Eker Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Steve Curtis Victory Lamborghini
432006 Flag of Norway.svg Bjørn Rune Gjelsten Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Steve Curtis Victory Lamborghini
442007 Flag of the United Arab Emirates.svg Arif Saif Al Zafeen Flag of France.svg Jean-Marc Sanchez Victory Lamborghini
452008 Flag of the United Arab Emirates.svg Mohammed Al Marri – Flag of the United Arab Emirates.svg Nadir Bin Hendi Victory Victory
462009 Flag of the United Arab Emirates.svg Arif Saif Al Zafeen Flag of the United Arab Emirates.svg Nadir Bin Hendi Victory Victory
472010 Flag of the United Arab Emirates.svg Arif Saif Al Zafeen Flag of the United Arab Emirates.svg Nadir Bin Hendi Victory Victory
482011 Flag of the United Arab Emirates.svg Arif Saif Al Zafeen Flag of the United Arab Emirates.svg Nadir Bin Hendi Victory Victory
492012 Flag of the United Arab Emirates.svg Arif Saif Al Zafeen Flag of the United Arab Emirates.svg M. Al Marri Victory Victory
502013 Flag of the United Arab Emirates.svg Arif Saif Al Zafeen Flag of the United Arab Emirates.svg M. Al Marri Victory Victory
512014 Flag of the United Arab Emirates.svg Arif Saif Al Zafeen Flag of the United Arab Emirates.svg N. Bin Hendi Victory Victory
522015 Flag of the United States.svg Gary Ballough Flag of the United States.svg John Tomlinson MTI Mercury Racing
532016 Flag of the United Arab Emirates.svg Arif Saf Al-Zafeen Flag of the United Arab Emirates.svg Nadir Bin Hendi Victory Team Victory V12

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References

  1. "F1 over Tejo waters" (in Portuguese). Publico. Publico. Retrieved 31 March 2016.
  2. "UIM Class 1 World Powerboat Championship Official Website". Archived from the original on 8 September 2008. Retrieved 7 June 2016.
  3. "UIM Class 1 World Powerboat Championship Official Website". Archived from the original on 17 June 2016. Retrieved 7 June 2016.