Retooling the technical specifications of any offshore powerboat racing class is not easy, especially when it comes to power. Some teams embrace it and others refuse it and move on, but the teams in the middle pose the greatest challenge. Because without some compromise, nothing happens.
And that was exactly the case with Class One International, the official name for the most powerful class in the six-race American Power Boat Association Offshore Championship Series, which begins May 17-19 in Cocoa Beach, Fla. Originally, the series organizers simply wanted to call it “Class 1.” But that name was already taken by the bracketed Class 1 category under the Offshore Powerboat Association, which is partnering with Powerboat P1 to produce the APBA series.
Plus, despite that Class 1 under the Union International Motonautique organization—and APBA is the domestic arm of the U.I.M.—is extinct, though reflective of what the organizers would like to achieve with the retooled category, it could have created confusion.
So they settled on Class One International for teams that will include Miss GEICO, 222 Offshore, Lucas Oil/SilverHook, Victory and Zaborowski Offshore Racing, all which are running in the season-opener next weekend in Cocoa Beach.
“The concept is to reignite/continue the historical legacy of Class 1 within the sport of offshore powerboat racing,” said Azam Rangoonwala, the chief executive officer of Powerboat P1. “Class 1 is and has always been seen as the highest level of powerboat racing, as F1 is for four-wheeled motorsports.”
Teams that competed in the Offshore Powerboat Association’s Extreme class and Super Boat International’s Unlimited class had no horsepower restrictions. Class One International does. Existing catamarans with lengths from 37 to 47 feet (new builds for the class must be 40 to 47 feet) are limited to 1,100 hp per engine for a total of 2,200 hp. Minimum weight for each boat without a tunnel tabs is 11,500 pounds. With a tunnel tab, the minimum weight restriction goes up to 12,000 pounds.
Sounds simple enough, but getting there was not. Mercury Racing created an engine package with a reportedly tamper-proof electronic control unit called the 1100 Comp for the class. Three teams—Miss GEICO, 222 Racing and Victory—purchased and installed those engines in their Victory-built catamarans. The Fond du Lac, Wis., high-performance marine engine and accessories company also offered detuning services for teams running its 1350, 1650 and 1750 engines, but some teams balked at the price, having to ship their engines to the company and more.
Organizers of the APBA Offshore Championship Series have secured the Class One logo previously used on the U.I.M. Class One circuit.
The interim solution for this season is to allow the teams to handle their own engine detuning and provide dynamometer sheets to the APBA Offshore Championship Series officials before each race.
“The rules were originally defined as a single engine series based around the new Mercury Racing 1100 competition engine,” said Rangoonwala. As /previously reported, three teams have currently purchased these engines. To allow more time for teams to transition to these engines/teams with other engines, it was agreed that boats that fit the general class rules—weight, width and lengths—would be allowed to enter if they were to detune their engines, Mercury Racing or otherwise, to 1,100 hp.
“The teams with the new Mercury Racing 1100 competition engines will be defined as ‘Factory’ teams,” he continued. “The teams with any other engine will be defined as ‘Privateer’ teams. These initial rules are designed to create and maintain a competitive class.”
Rangoonwala said the power strategy will be revisited after the third race of the season.
“If an uncompetitive playing field exists after what most likely will be a rough-water race in Cocoa Beach a flat-water race in Lake Ozarks and whatever conditions we encounter in Sarasota, we will revisit the rules,” he said. “A full set of the rules are to be published on the APBA website imminently.”
While there only is one team—Lucas Oil/SilverHook—running a V-bottom in the class, the organizers have created engine, length and minimum to accommodate the team and perhaps attract other V-bottoms to the Class One International Ranks. The V-bottom raceboats running in the class are limited to twin 1,350-hp engines. Minimum weight for those boats, which are allowed to be 40 to 50 feet long, is 10,000 pounds.