Big Racing, Small Boats
As everyone knows who has followed Wave to Wave, we love single engine sport boats of all kinds and I personally really love small hulls. There is something about driving a small lightweight hull that allows you to feel the water and experience the speed better than anything else. Riding a motorcycle is the closest comparison I can make. My dad raced small outboards way back in the day, from hydros to small V-hulls. They were local community events and they were popular. Sometimes it seems like the days of racing small boats at a community event for all ages are gone but they aren’t. In fact, there could be a resurgence of that kind of racing.
Part of building great racing events is participation and stock GT classes are truly accessible racing.
Recently, I was looking at doing an article on the European racing, UIM GT-15, GT-30 and F4 class. Part of the magic is they use stock engines only, no modifications. Everyone is running the same power, it keeps costs down, you get to use efficient new technology and it creates a fair playing field, everyone uses new four-strokes at 15, 30 and 60 HP. Manufacturers should love it as it is the ultimate bragging rights; beating the competition head to head. In the European F4 tunnel class, the 60 Formula Mercury can push them over 70 MPH. The small F4 boats can turn on a dime too, it’s amazing.
This is racing philosophy is great and it resonates with all racers. Luckily, I was contacted by a reader named Tom Schnull who is an avid racer in Canada. He is the lucky owner of a Rapid Craft Cyclone 13’, Critchfield design. Tom runs the lightweight V-hull with Mercury Racing's Formula 60. This engine is based off the Mercury 60HP four-stroke, with a 15” mid, solid mounts and a racing cowling. With different classes like the Euro F4 and T-boats, this 60 is fantastic and is super reliable and efficient. Tuff Marine prefers them on their 16, where they do about 60 MPH.
Tom Schnull's Rapid Craft Cyclone in action. About as much fun as racing gets.
Tom races in Ontario and last summer the events got a huge reception including media coverage and serious attendance. Making everything stock and cost friendly, it is no wonder you can get more people involved. Tom likes the competition and runs his Cyclone in the T-750 class. With a Ron Hill 12 inch - 22’ pitch, it does 64 MPH, which is flying in a hull that size. He is very competitive against the old light two-strokes and with some tweaking appears to be capable of beating them. Tom also competes in the hydro class, making for a busy race day, competing in 3 different classes. As Tom mentioned to me, we can move on from the old two-strokes engines and do fine with new technology.
In Europe the Powerboat GP GT classes are very cool. They use small V-hulls built by various approved manufacturers: L7, FSG, Winrace and CSM. With the 15 HP class, at about 11 feet, they do over 40 MPH and the GT-30 class, about 13 feet, does over 55 MPH, which is incredible and makes for very spirited racing on a small course. Although, small, the hulls are wide and run on a pad, making them much safer than old flat bottom hulls and hydros. Since engines are completely stock, you see representation from almost every manufacturer.
This type of racing is a win / win scenario for racers, manufacturers and the community. Stock classes ranging from 15 HP to 60 HP certainly make it far more accessible. In Canada, racing is organized by Ontario Powerboat Racing Association (OPRA) and Toronto Outboard Racing Club TORC. In the UK, Powerboat GP races are governed by the Royal Yachting Association and by UIM. Stock classes at every level are such a great way to race and perfect way to bring the community together.