They accelerate quicker to 100 Kmph than a Lamborghini Murcielago LP640 and a Mercedes SLR McLaren, they produce a G Force of 4.5 while taking 90 degree turns at 140 Kmph, the driver sits in a fully enclosed tiny capsule with very limited visibility yet they compete against each other, often only cm’s apart, at speeds of 160 Kmph………….what are they? They are Formula 2 Powerboats.
These lightweight carbon fibre catamarans boast an awesome power to weight ratio and thanks to their unique design they glide across the surface on a cushion of air, often with only the propeller in the water. However because water conditions are constantly changing lap after lap, it has been likened to driving a racing car over a ploughed field.
Circuit powerboat racing was introduced in Italy in the early 1980’s and in those days safety was not a priority. Back then the catamarans were constructed in thin plywood and the driver sat in an exposed cockpit at the very front of the craft. Power came from a heavyweight 4 litre V8 outboard engine making it a very ‘lethal weapon’ indeed. At almost every race meeting throughout the 80’s tragedy was never far away and the sport lost many drivers from serious accidents.
Nowadays the UIM F2 World Championship has become considerably more safety conscious. The latest generation of racing machines feature driver cockpits constructed of high impact resistant composite material designed in a way to deflect other craft in the event of a collision. The 4 litre V8 outboards have been replaced by the latest generation of Mercury Racing 2.5 Litre OptiMax 200 XS engines. These ‘stock’ racing engines are strictly controlled by UIM Technical Commissioners at each race venue making the class both affordable and low maintenance. Whilst the power’s been reduced it’s had little effect on the speed and although the sport is still fraught with danger, the drivers now have an infinitely better chance of escaping injury in the event of an incident.
Today through the use of the internet and various social media networks fans from around the world can follow each UIM F2 Grand Prix through the internet making it a truly global sporting event.
The World Championship Run of the hosting country, with the field of averagely 22-24 drivers representing different countries. The field races on courses of different layout, 2-pin or multi-pin tracks which are generally 1600-2000 m long, varied with right and left handler turns. Boats are lined up on a pontoon and are set going by a dead engine start procedure at once. The total number of laps is approx. 35-40 depending on the length of the course, and lasts for 30 minutes while offering a continuous and exciting racing experience. Safety is guaranteed by the Official Rescue Team that is made up of professional rescue personnel, divers and doctors. The Grand Prix and the whole weekend is supervised by the Officer of the Day (OOD), usually a skilled and experienced Officer of the hosting country’s National Authority for Powerboating.
|2023||Rashed Al Qemzi||UAE||DAC||3 wins||4||75|
|2022||Stefan Hagin||UAE||1 win||4||51|
|2021||Rashed Al Qemzi||UAE||DAC||2 wins||3||47|
|2020||Duarte Benavente||UAE||Moore||2 wins||3||55|
|2019||Rashed Al Qemzi||UAE||DAC||4 wins||5||95|
|2018||Alberto Comparato||ITA||DAC||2 wins||3||47|
|2017||Rashed Al Qemzi||UAE||DAC||1 win||3||41|
|2016||Pierre Lundin||SWE||Moore||4 wins||7||95|
|2015||Pierre Lundin||SWE||Moore||3 wins||3||60|
|2014||Erik Stark||SWE||Molgaard||3 wins||4||75|
|2013||Erik Stark||SWE||Molgaard||3 wins||5||73|
|2012||Erik Stark||SWE||Molgaard||2 wins||4||67|
|2011||Erik Stark||SWE||Molgaard||4 wins||4||80|
|2010||Johan Coenradi||NED||DAC||1 win||3||38|
|2009||Johan Coenradi||NED||Molgaard||no wins||4||43|
|2008||Colin Jelf||GBR||Molgaard||4 runner-ups||4||60|
|2007||Colin Jelf||GBR||Molgaard||2 wins||4||62|
|2006||Colin Jelf||GBR||Molgaard||1 win||3||35|
|2005||Marc Rolls||GBR||Burgess||1 win||3||34|
|2004||Jonas Andersson||SWE||Molgaard||1 win||7||88|
|2002||Christian Odd Sanne||NOR||DAC|
Once the results of the Qualifying are published, the first 16 or 8 fastest drivers are entitled to attend the Match Race. These drivers are then paired up to race against each other over two laps on a specially designed course. The course comprises of a two buoy short circuit with a third buoy being positioned to form a longer circuit. The driver starting on the left runs the short circuit whilst the one on the right runs the longer one. After completing their first lap they then change track and run on the other circuit this should results in them arriving at the finish-line almost at the same time. The winning driver from each run then progresses through to the quarter and semi-finals and finally to the Grand Final.
The speed record contests are held just before the Match Race. Each of the 16 drivers makes one attempt to post the fastest speed. This takes place on the longest part of the Match Race straight. A time-keeper is positioned on the course near the finish-line with a radar gun measuring the maximum speed of each boat. To set these speeds drivers often use propellers designed specificity for a high top speed. The 3 highest speeds ever measured were set by the following drivers:
|1||Pierre Lundin||SWE||Moore||GP of Finland, Peurunka||2016 June 12th||194 km/h|
|2||Erik Edin||SWE||Molgaard||GP of Finland, Peurunka||2016 June 12th||193 km/h|
|3||Uvis Slakteris||LAT||Molgaard||GP of Finland, Peurunka||2016 June 12th||193 km/h|
The new race model features a Gen 2 – 2.5 Liter OptiMax powerhead which combines components from the Mercury Racing OptiMax 2.5XS outboard and the current Mercury Racing engineered OptiMax 175 Pro XS outboard.
The 200XS SST won the 1999 & 2000 24 Hours of Rouen endurance powerboat races overall and has won Class 2 competition multiple times. The engine was the power behind Jimmie Merleau’s 2008 ChampBoat Series F-2 United States Championship and began to be used in 2010 in the UIM World F2 Powerboat Championship.
Hulls of Formula 2 are the same as for Formula 1 boats and they reach minimum length of 4.8 meters and minimum weight of 550 kg (including the pilot). Due to their specially designed tunnel hulls, Formula 2 boats are able to turn almost instantaneously incurring more G forces than any other racing machine on the planet.
Starting 2008 all boats racing at international venues are equipped with safety crash boxes. The only difference between the boats in Formula 2 and Formula 1 is the power of engine – in F1 boats are equipped with engines generating up to 400 HP and capable of reached speeds of 240 km/h.