What is Offshore Powerboat Racing?

offshore powerboat racing

About Offshore Powerboat Racing

  • Invented: 1903
  • Founded By: Alfred Harmsworth
  • Highest Governing Body: Union Internationale Motonautique (UIM)

Offshore powerboat racing is a sport where powerboats engage in races, often of the point-to-point variety. These boats are large and specialized designed to reach extremely fast speeds on the water. Offshore powerboat racing is an expensive and elite sport, as the boats used in the sport are quite costly to make, maintain, and fuel. However, despite being known as a “rich man’s sport,” offshore powerboat racing now operates with many different classes and types of boats, some of which are more affordable for the average racer.

Offshore powerboat racing was first officially created in 1903 when a British newspaper and publishing magnate named Alfred Harmsworth created the Harmsworth Trophy, an international competition between powerboat racers from various nations. The first race was held in 1903 and was dominated by American racer Gar Wood, who went on to win seven more Harmsworth Trophies in later years. Wood would also become the first powerboat racer to break speeds of 100 mph in his boat. Powerboat racing quickly became popular around the world, with races drawing crowds of up to 400,000 people every year.

Soon after its invention, offshore powerboat racing became regulated by many organizations across the globe, including the American Power Boat Association (APBA) and the Union Internationale du Yachting Automobile, which later developed into the Union Internationale Motonautique (UIM). The UIM is the current governing body for international offshore powerboat racing. Over time, the Harmsworth Trophy faded out of popularity and was replaced by newer powerboating events, including the Class 1 World Powerboat Championship, which was first held in 1956.


What is offshore powerboat racing?

Offshore powerboat racing is a sport where pilots race specialized, extremely-fast motorboats through the water in point-to-point races. Established in the early 1900’s, offshore powerboat racing became an instantly popular sport. Soon after, offshore powerboat racing developed into a premier sport for the wealthy, as the boats and fuel involved are extremely expensive. Modern offshore powerboat racing is managed by the American Power Boat Association in the United States and internationally by the Union Internationale Motonautique (UIM). 

What are the biggest offshore powerboat races in the world?

One of the biggest offshore powerboat races in the world is the Class 1 World Powerboat Championship. First held in 1956, the inaugural race in the championship was held between Miami, Florida, and Nassau, in the Bahamas. Today, Class 1 powerboat racing is known as the most premier class of offshore powerboat racing in the world. Class 1 races are managed by the ABPA and have strict rules and requirements, including the use of specific types of motors and hulls. 

How fast are the boats in offshore powerboat racing?

Offshore powerboats are extremely fast. At the premier level of powerboat racing, Class 1, all boats possess twin inboard 1100hp engines and are required to have a minimum weight of 4,950 kg. With such powerful engines, the boats used in Class 1 powerboat racing can reach speeds higher than 160 mph. Some powerboats have even shown the ability to reach speeds of 200 mph, depending on their class.