Formula 1 Powerboat World Championship

Last updated
Formula 1 Powerboat World Championship
Formula 1 Powerboat World Championship Logo.png
Category Catamaran, single-engined, single-seater
CountryInternational
Inaugural season 1981
Drivers19 (2017)
Teams9 (2017)
ConstructorsBaBa ·Blaze ·DAC ·Dragon ·Molgaard ·Moore
Engine suppliers Mercury Marine
Drivers' champion Flag of Italy.svg Alex Carella
(Team Abu Dhabi)
Teams' champion Flag of the United Arab Emirates.svg Team Abu Dhabi
Official website f1h2o.com
Motorsport current event.svg Current season
An F1 powerboat rounding a buoy Formel1 Powerboat Turnbuoy.jpg
An F1 powerboat rounding a buoy

The Formula 1 Powerboat World Championship (also F1) is an international motorboat racing competition for powerboats organised by the Union Internationale Motonautique (UIM) and promoted by H2O Racing, hence it often being referred to as F1H2O. It is the highest class of inshore powerboat racing in the world, and as such, with it sharing the title of F1, is similar to Formula One car racing. Each race lasts approximately 45 minutes following a circuit marked out in a selected stretch of water, usually a lake, river, dock, or sheltered bay.

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.

Inshore powerboat racing

Inshore powerboat racing is a form of water-based motorsport using powerboats in sheltered or inland stretches of water, including lakes, rivers, docks and sheltered bays. It is often referred to as circuit powerboat racing because of the frequency of inshore races to use the format of a circuit loop, around which boats race for a number of pre-determined laps.

Formula One is the highest class of single-seater auto racing sanctioned by the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) and owned by the Formula One Group. The FIA Formula One World Championship has been one of the premier forms of racing around the world since its inaugural season in 1950. The word "formula" in the name refers to the set of rules to which all participants' cars must conform. A Formula One season consists of a series of races, known as Grands Prix, which take place worldwide on purpose-built circuits and on public roads.

Contents

Qualifying periods decide the formation of the grid, and timing equipment records the performance of competitors to decide the final classification and allocation of championship points.

History

The concept of a single unified championship for inshore powerboats had been conceived three years previously in 1978 when David Parkinson, an experienced PR manager, was offered the support of Mercury Marine, one of his clients, if he could establish such a series. The concept became the Canon Trophy, sponsored by another of Parkinson's clients, Canon Inc. [1]

Mercury Marine company

Mercury Marine, founded in 1939 as Kiekhaefer Mercury, is a division of the Brunswick Corporation. It is based in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. The company manufactures marine engines.

Canon Inc. is a Japanese multinational corporation specializing in the manufacture of imaging and optical products, including cameras, camcorders, photocopiers, steppers, computer printers and medical equipment. It's headquartered in Ōta, Tokyo, Japan.

A steady escalation in engine development between Mercury and arch-rival OMC was already underway as the Canon Trophy was formed, and this arms race ultimately resulted in massively powerful 3.5-litre (210 in3) V8 engines being used and led to the creation of the OZ class. Each manufacturer offered as many as half a dozen drivers with a free supply of these OZ class engines in a bid to succeed. The OZ engines differed from the ON class which was centred around a standard 2-litre capacity and consequently OZ machines, with their superior power, swept all before them. Matters came to a head when, in an attempt to extract an even greater advantage, Renato Molinari turned up with two engines on the back of his boat at the Italian Grand Prix. A petition was signed by 28 drivers in 1980 to outlaw the OZ boats and the Formula ON Drivers Association (FONDA) was born. Mercury withdrew their T4 engine and the split was confirmed. OZ and ON classes would have their own championships in 1981. [2]

Outboard Marine Corporation 1998 power trim

Outboard Marine Corporation (OMC) was a maker of Evinrude, Johnson and Gale Outboard Motors boat motors and many different brands of boats. It was a multibillion-dollar Fortune 500 corporation. Evinrude began in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1907. OMC was based in Waukegan, Illinois. They also owned several lines of boats such as Chris Craft, Lowe Boats, Princecraft, Four Winns, SeaSwirl, Stratos, and Javelin. OMC was also a parent company to Ryan, which made lawn mowers.

Renato Molinari is an Italian powerboat racer, and the inaugural winner of the John Player Special F1 Powerboat World Championship in 1981, and won titles again in 1983 and 1984. In addition to this success, Molinari is an 18-time World Champion ; 11-time European Champion, 4-time winner of the Rouen 24 hours, 4-time winner of the Paris 6 hours; twice winner of the Parker Enduro and 3-time winner of the Berlin 6 hours.

Somewhat understandably, both championships attempted to use the title of Formula 1 to market themselves as the pinnacle of powerboat racing. For much of 1981 however it was largely irrelevant. John Player had chosen to support the OMC-powered OZ championship, giving it not only an advantage in speed and technology, but also marketing. The championship was still in its early stages with a small grid, but FONDA's ON class wasn't much better either and was effectively the remains of the Canon Trophy. Journalists of the period continued to use the familiar terms of ON and OZ to avoid confusion, [3] and it was only when the UIM stepped in to sort out the mess that resulted in the OZ class being awarded Formula 1 status, with the ON class given the consolation title of "World Grand Prix". Thus, with the backing of the drivers' association behind it, the FONDA World Grand Prix Series entered into a period of being overshadowed by its bigger, faster brother, the Formula 1 World Series.

By bringing together the financial support and marketing ability of John Player Special, as well as the clarity and consistency of a championship with an established event structure, one which focused on sprint races rather than a mixture that included endurance races in previous years, the category allowed for a relatively stable environment in which the top powerboat teams and drivers could compete. A fixed points system made comprehension easy for spectators, with it matching its motor racing equivalent with 9, 6, 4, 3, 2, and finally 1 point on offer for the top six finishers.

Roger Jenkins in 1981. Jenkins, Roger 1981-06-20.jpg
Roger Jenkins in 1981.

Safety was always looming large in the background of the F1 series. The ever-increasing speeds of the 3.5-litre V8s, as OMC continued to refine them, meant that surviving a 'big one' was becoming less and less likely. In 1984, matters reached a tragic conclusion when Tom Percival was the last of four drivers to lose their lives in the space of a matter of months. [4] Cees van der Velden pulled his three-boat Benson & Hedges-backed team from the final three races of the season, [5] and Carlsberg cancelled their partnership with Roger Jenkins, having told the 1982 champion, "another death or serious injury, and they were out". [6] OMC were able to pull together a depleted field to see out the season, but the writing was on the wall. It was the beginning of the end for Formula 1 as the OZ class.

Thomas Colin "Tom" Percival was a British powerboat racer.

Benson & Hedges is a British brand of cigarettes owned by either Philip Morris International, British American Tobacco, or Japan Tobacco, depending on the region. In the UK, they are registered in Old Bond Street in London, and are manufactured in Lisnafillan, Ballymena, Northern Ireland.

Carlsberg Group Danish brewery group

Carlsberg A/S is a global brewer. Founded in 1847 by J. C. Jacobsen, the company's headquarters is located in Copenhagen, Denmark. Since Jacobsen's death in 1887, the majority owner of the company has been the Carlsberg Foundation. The company's flagship brand is Carlsberg. It also brews Tuborg, Kronenbourg, Somersby cider, Russia's best-selling beer Baltika, Belgian Grimbergen abbey beers, and more than 500 local beers.

Keen to keep the championship running however, OMC gave the F1 World Series a facelift. With Benson & Hedges vacating the series' title sponsorship, in came Champion to create the Champion Spark Plug F1 World Series, and a new Belgian promoter, Pro One, was tasked with turning the series around. [7] Prize money was significantly increased to attract drivers and a greater presence in the United States was sought. Following the trends in hydroplanes with seat belts and safety cells, boat designer Chris Hodges introduced the first iteration of his safety cell which paved the way for a revolution in boat safety [8] and Bob Spalding won the title driving for the Percival Hodges team. On the outside, it appeared as if Formula 1 was set for a new period of growth, until OMC uncovered the level of spending that Pro One had undertaken to raise the profile of the championship. Rumours suggested the promoter had spent the promotion budget for the next three years in a single season. Figures of $4–5 million were passed around. [9] OMC called time on the whole European operation at the end of 1985 and in 1986, based solely in North America, the F1 World Series was wound down before it was completely assimilated into the domestic US championship.

Champion (spark plug) American brand of spark plug

Champion is an American brand of spark plug.

Hydroplane racing

Hydroplane racing is a sport involving racing hydroplanes on lakes and rivers. It is a popular spectator sport in several countries.

Robert Fiske "Bob" Spalding was a British powerboat racer. He was born in Argentina to British parents. Spalding is a former F1 Powerboat World Champion and 4 times winner of the Paris six-hour.

From 1987 to 1989, there was no official Formula 1 championship. The FONDA World Grand Prix Series continued to operate with title sponsorship from Budweiser and benefitted from F1's demise in Europe as drivers moved back over. In simple terms Mercury's two litre formula had outlasted OMC's monster 3.5-litre V8s but the reality was far more complex than that. In the United States, Formula 1 lived on, but as far as the world stage was concerned, the powerboat community once again turned to David Parkinson, who having established the Canon Trophy back in 1978, was still at the helm of the FONDA series into which it had evolved. With no other challenger unlike ten years previously, the UIM reinstated the Formula 1 category to World Championship status and in 1990 the FONDA World Grand Prix Series became the Formula 1 World Championship.

David Parkinson continued to manage and promote the championship until the end of 1993, at which point he handed over to Nicolo di San Germano, who continues to lead the series to the present day. Di San Germano has overseen a period of continued improvements in driver safety, managed the championship through multiple economic downturns and seen a shift in focus for the series away from Europe towards the Middle East and Asia, driven by a need for financial stability. The cost has been a heavy one in the eyes of many traditional fans based in Europe as calendars and grid sizes have shrunk but the attraction remains – the series will return to Portugal and France in 2015 and there is a focus on four-stroke technology to finally overhaul the decades-old two-stroke engines that have dominated the sport since the very start.

Format

Inaugurated in 1981, F1 powerboat racing is a Grand Prix style event, in which teams compete around the world each season. In the 2013 season, a total of 23 drivers and 9 teams entered at least one race, with 16 boats competing full-time. The races take place along a track of approximately 350 meters with multiple turns, over which the boats can reach 250 kilometers per hour (155 mph). The races are longer than most powerboat races at approximately 45 minutes, but still shorter than many car races.

Boats

F1 powerboats at the 2004 Grand Prix of Singapore. 2004 F1 Powerboat World Championship Grand Prix of Singapore.jpg
F1 powerboats at the 2004 Grand Prix of Singapore.

F1 racing uses tunnel hull catamarans that are capable of both high speed and exceptional manoeuvrability. Overall, the boats weigh 860 pounds (390 kilogrammes), including 260 pounds (118 kilograms) of engine. They are 20 feet (6 metres) long and seven feet (2 metres) wide, keeping weight low through extensive use of carbon fiber and kevlar. The tunnel hull design creates aerodynamic lift due to a 'wing' formed by the deck and under surface of the hull. This increases lift and reduces drag, so that at speed only a few inches of the boat touch the water, leading to the high speed possible with these hulls. [10]

F1 boats are powered by a Mercury Marine [ citation needed ] V6 two stroke that burns 100LL Avgas at a rate of 120 liters (32 gallons) per hour, generating over 400 horsepower at 10,500 rpm. This engine can propel the boats to 100 km/h (62 mph) in less than two seconds and to a maximum speed of over 250 km/h (155 mph).[ citation needed ]

Safety

Although F1 boats have not changed much in appearance since the start of the event, the construction and safety has been dramatically improved from the original open-cockpit plywood boats.

The first major development was the hard composite cockpit capsule designed to break away from the rest of the boat in a crash. This also inaugurated the practice of securing the drivers to their seats with a harness. First developed by designer and racer Chris Hodges, this system was optional for a time due to the opposition of the drivers but, after it saved several drivers in major crashes, the UIM mandated it for all boats. In the early 1990s F1 boat builder Dave Burgess introduced a canopy that fully enclosed the cockpit to protect the driver from the full force of water in a nose-dive, similar to the system used in Unlimited hydroplanes a decade earlier. In the late 1990s boat builder DAC introduced an airbag situated behind the driver that prevents the cockpit from completely submerging if the boat flips.

These specific changes in safety features were also accompanied by a progression of lighter and stronger composite hulls that also reduced the hazards of racing. F1 drivers now also wear a HANS Head and Neck Restraint device similar to that worn by their Formula One automobile racing counterparts to combat head and neck injuries.

As of the 2007 season, all boats are required to have a protective crash box installed. [11] Potential future safety features include collapsible bows that would deform rather than penetrate another hull.[ citation needed ]

Drivers

Before obtaining a Super License to drive an F1 boat, drivers undergo a stringent medical and also an immersion test. This involves being strapped into a mock F1 cockpit. The cell is flipped over and the driver has to make his escape while being judged by safety officials.[ citation needed ]

Coverage

The series is broadcast live to over twenty countries. [12]

Champions

The winners of the 2009 Abu Dhabi F1 Powerboat second race; left to right: Ahmed Al Hameli, UAE, (second place); Jay Price, USA, (first place); and Philippe Chiappe, France, (third place). 2009 Abu Dhabi F1 Powerboat 2nd Race.JPG
The winners of the 2009 Abu Dhabi F1 Powerboat second race; left to right: Ahmed Al Hameli, UAE, (second place); Jay Price, USA, (first place); and Philippe Chiappe , France, (third place).

SeasonChampion
1981 Flag of Italy.svg Renato Molinari
1982 Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Roger Jenkins
1983 Flag of Italy.svg Renato Molinari
1984 Flag of Italy.svg Renato Molinari
1985 Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Bob Spalding
1986 Flag of the United States.svg Gene Thibodaux
1987 – 1989: NOT HELD
1990 Flag of the United Kingdom.svg John Hill
1991 Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Jonathan Jones
1992 Flag of Italy.svg Fabrizio Bocca
1993 Flag of Italy.svg Guido Cappellini
1994 Flag of Italy.svg Guido Cappellini

SeasonChampion
1995 Flag of Italy.svg Guido Cappellini
1996 Flag of Italy.svg Guido Cappellini
1997 Flag of the United States.svg Scott Gillman
1998 Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Jonathan Jones
1999 Flag of Italy.svg Guido Cappellini
2000 Flag of the United States.svg Scott Gillman
2001 Flag of Italy.svg Guido Cappellini
2002 Flag of Italy.svg Guido Cappellini
2003 Flag of Italy (2003-2006).svg Guido Cappellini
2004 Flag of the United States.svg Scott Gillman
2005 Flag of Italy (2003-2006).svg Guido Cappellini
2006 Flag of the United States.svg Scott Gillman

SeasonChampion
2007 Flag of Finland.svg Sami Seliö
2008 Flag of the United States.svg Jay Price
2009 Flag of Italy.svg Guido Cappellini
2010 Flag of Finland.svg Sami Seliö
2011 Flag of Italy.svg Alex Carella
2012 Flag of Italy.svg Alex Carella
2013 Flag of Italy.svg Alex Carella
2014 Flag of France.svg Philippe Chiappe
2015 Flag of France.svg Philippe Chiappe
2016 Flag of France.svg Philippe Chiappe
2017 Flag of Italy.svg Alex Carella
2018 Flag of the United States.svg Shaun Torrente

Formula-4s

F-4s is the support class of F1 and is a part of the series since 2010. Every team has one F-4s boat. The class have two single races per race weekend. The boats uses a Mercury 60 HP stock EPA engine and reach a top speed around 120 km/h.

F4S runs 113 kilo 4 stroke motors rev-limited to 6250 RPM on very short tunnels. The top speed in competition is 120 km/h.

SeasonOverall winner
2010 Flag of Sweden.svg Oskar Samuelsson
2011 Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Matthew Palfreyman
2012 Flag of Sweden.svg Jesper Forss
2013 Flag of Germany.svg Mike Szymura
2014 Flag of Germany.svg Mike Szymura
2015 Flag of Germany.svg Mike Szymura
2016 Flag of the United Arab Emirates.svg Rashed Al Qamzi
2017 Flag of the United Arab Emirates.svg Mansoor Al Mansoori
2018 Flag of France.svg Tom Chiappe
A ChampBoat at the 2006 Minneapolis race. F1 ChampBoat Minneapolis 2006.jpg
A ChampBoat at the 2006 Minneapolis race.

The USF1 Powerboat Tour [13] is a domestic US-based competition using powerboats that are very similar to those in the F1H2O World Championship. For some years the series co-existed alongside the Mercury-supported ChampBoat series which was formed in 2002 but which had ceased to exist by 2013. Terry Rinker dominated the ChampBoat series with four titles in 2003, 2004, 2006 and 2008.

Additional domestic F1 powerboat championships have been held in Australia, [14] Argentina [15] and South Africa. [16]

See also

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References

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  13. "USF1 Powerboat Tour" . Retrieved 7 May 2015.
  14. "Australian Formula Powerboat GP" . Retrieved 7 May 2015.
  15. "Sitio oficial de la F1 Powerboat" . Retrieved 7 May 2015.
  16. "Powerboat South Africa" . Retrieved 7 May 2015.