F1 Powerboat World Championship

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F1 Powerboat World Championship
Formula 1 Powerboat World Championship Logo.png
Category Catamaran, single-engined, single-seater
Country International
Inaugural season 1981
Drivers 16 (2014)
Teams 8 (2014)
Constructors BaBa · Blaze · Caudwell · DAC · Dragon · Molgaard · Moore
Engine suppliers Mercury
Drivers' champion Philippe Chiappe
Teams' champion Qatar Team
Official website f1h2o.com
Motorsport current event.svg Current season
An F1 powerboat rounding a buoy

The F1 Powerboat World Championship 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.

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.


The championship was formed towards the end of 1980, as drivers and teams became divided on the best course of action to establish a premier powerboating series. This was exacerbated by the two rival engine manufacturers Mercury, and OMC who each favoured a different option. Mercury decided to withdraw its powerful T4 engine from competition, and instead pursue a two litre engine format, which backed by a sizeable contingent of drivers, became the 'ON' class. OMC however, continued to support its equivalent to Mercury's T4, a 3.5 litre, 400 horsepower V8 two-stroke that would form the backbone of the 'OZ' class. Traditionally, the 'OZ' class had been for experimental technology, and many drivers felt the class should remain that way, instead of it becoming the top category of powerboat racing. Ultimately however, with the two classes both claiming themselves the title of Formula 1, the UIM was forced to intervene, and officially sanctioned the Formula 1 World Championship in early 1981, using the regulations that made up the 'OZ' class. The decision was aided through the support of John Player Special who had already agreed to a three-year sponsorship deal of the 'OZ' class. The two litre 'ON' class was given the title of Formula Grand Prix, and had previously been known as the FONDA Two Litre World Series.

Prior to 1981, there had been a series of 'Formula 1' titled powerboat races and events, but never a coherent, and properly sanctioned championship. By bringing together the financial support and marketing ability of John Player Special, as well as the clarity and consistency of a championship with a fixed points system and 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.


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.


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.[1]

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]


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. 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.[2] Potential future safety features include collapsible bows that would deform rather than penetrate another hull.[citation needed]


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]


The series is broadcast live to over twenty countries.[3]


The winners of 2009 Abu Dhabi F1 Powerboat second race; left to right Ahmad Al Hameli from UAE (Runner-up), Jay Price from Qatar (Winner) and Philippe Chiappe from France (Third place)
Season Champion
1981 Italy Renato Molinari
1982 United Kingdom Roger Jenkins
1983 Italy Renato Molinari
1984 Italy Renato Molinari
1985 United Kingdom Bob Spalding
1986 United States Gene Thibodaux
1987 - 1989: NOT HELD
1990 United Kingdom John Hill
1991 United Kingdom Jonathan Jones
1992 Italy Fabrizio Bocca
1993 Italy Guido Cappellini
Season Champion
1994 Italy Guido Cappellini
1995 Italy Guido Cappellini
1996 Italy Guido Cappellini
1997 United States Scott Gillman
1998 United Kingdom Jonathan Jones
1999 Italy Guido Cappellini
2000 United States Scott Gillman
2001 Italy Guido Cappellini
2002 Italy Guido Cappellini
2003 Italy Guido Cappellini
2004 United States Scott Gillman
Season Champion
2005 Italy Guido Cappellini
2006 United States Scott Gillman
2007 Finland Sami Seliö
2008 United States Jay Price
2009 Italy Guido Cappellini
2010 Finland Sami Seliö
2011 Italy Alex Carella
2012 Italy Alex Carella
2013 Italy Alex Carella
2014 France Philippe Chiappe


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 104 k/h.

Season Champion
2010 Sweden Oskar Samuelsson
2011 United Kingdom Matthew Palfreyman
2012 Sweden Jesper Forss
2013 Germany Mike Szymura
2014 Germany Mike Szymura

Related series[edit]

An F1 powerboat racing in the ChampBoat Series.

F1 ChampBoat series is a competition of powerboats that are very similar to those in the F1 PowerBoat series. The series has existed since 2002 and all the competitions are held in the United States. Terry Rinker has dominated the series so far with four championships; 2003, 2004, 2006 and 2008. [4]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]