F1 Powerboat Racing
SIze does matter but sometimes speed matters more than size and nowhere is this truer than in water sports. So though we have been talking of giant ships till now of various types, we will take a look at relatively smaller sized power boats used in F1 circuits.
The F1 powerboat racing championship is analogous to the F1 car racing championship. It is supposed to be known as the most electrifying water sport. It is believed that an F1 powerboat runs at a speed that is tough to acquire even by the best of the F1 cars. Now just imagine: a powerboat can reach a speed of 180-220 Kilometers per hour in just 4 seconds (97 - 119 Nautical Miles per hour). Seriously, you have to see it to believe it.
In an F1 powerboat championship, 24 boats compete with each other for a duration of 45 minutes, without the usage of brakes or gearboxes. Why? Because they don’t have any brakes or gearboxes. Just imagine a vehicle racing on water at a speed of 220 kilometers per hour, maneuvering through the curvy tracks, balancing in air when lifted due to high speed and barely managing to preserve stability at hairpin turns. Its a tough roller coaster ride which requires great amount of courage and skills. The track is as long as 350 meters.
These light weight catamarans do spellbinding summersaults, doing “close shave” over taking with impeccable adroitness in maneuvering ability and unquenchable courage. To win the championship, a driver must have loads of skills, courage and of course luck.
The design of powerboats has remained almost the same since the start of this championship in 1981. The design of power boats is of tunnel hull catamarans, which due to its aerodynamic structure provides high velocity and maneuverability. This tunnel hulls produces an air cushion below them which facilitates the boat to lift up, creating least friction with water. The catamarans are made of carbon fiber or fiber glass. The overall weight is approximately 860 pounds which also include the weight of a V6 engine, giving 400 horse power output at around 10,500 rpm. The length is around 6 meter and width is 2.5 meter approximately. As mentioned earlier, there are no brakes and gear boxes.
The cockpit of the boat is an enclosed capsule which ensures the safety of the driver at the time of a crash or a collision. The new powerboats are all provided with safety belts and airbags. They are also provided with crash box which is similar to the black box that is fixed in aircraft. In case of a collision or an accident the crash box records and preserves the internal operations of the boat, which makes the crash-analysis extremely easy.
The future powerboats will come with collapsible hull and bows, so that in case of a collision or crash, they get deformed rather than penetrating the other boat’s hull.
Blame it on the weather
The weather and velocity of air, at the time of the race, play a vital role in the maneuvering and stability of the boat. If the water current and the wind condition is harsh, the water continuously splashes and sprays on the console screen, making visibility blurred and thus increase the chances of collision
High wind velocity is also a hindrance in the smooth sailing of the boats. The winds not only prevents attaining of high velocity but also leads to “turn around” of the boat, which may also lead to capsizing of the boat. In case of capsizing of the boat, the airbag installed in the cockpit inflates. The cockpits are also provided with oxygen supply from the cylinders.