Daily Archives: October 3, 2010

Just Add Water


Motor Man has been building engines since he was a little boy, and souped up his go-kart to make it faster.  Once he grew up (well, once he got older), he began building race engines for cars and race boats. Race boats are sometimes called hydroplanes, or hydros, for short. APBA (American Powerboat Association) is the governing body.

On the highway, in your car, hydroplaning is not good. In a race boat, hydroplaning is great because it means you’re going fast – just skimming across the water. Motor Man says that the less of the boat in the water, the faster it goes.


At a race, hydros are placed in the water by cranes, which are at the race site for the entire  weekend. The American flag is displayed on one crane, and the Canadian flag on another.  American and Canadian boats race in both countries.

See that guy at the back of the trailer – on the right? He’s the one holding the orange life jacket – his name is Jim – remember him. 

In this photo, the boats are taking the green flag. It’s a little different than the start of a car race. The drivers have to time it just right, or they’ll be penalized for “jumping the start”. The spray of water behind the boat is called a “roostertail”.


I asked Motor Man what determines the size of the roostertails. He said it’s many things: prop (propeller), skid fin and some other technical stuff. I just know that sometimes those roostertails are HUGE! That’s one thing that makes boat racing such a pretty sport. And that big orange thing on the right is a buoy, it’s used to mark the race course.

In boat racing, there is no winner’s circle or victory lane. After the race, the driver of the winning boat just pulls his boat into the pit area with the other boats. And the crane lifts each one up and back on its trailer.

Remember Jim – the guy in the previous photo?  Jim is the owner/driver of a 5 litre hydroplane named “Keen Machine”. Motor Man builds his engine. Here’s another picture of Jim:

Guess what he just did this weekend? HE WON THE APBA 5-litre NATIONAL HIGH POINTS CHAMPIONSHIP!!!   Yay, Jim! Way to go! Not that I’m bragging on you and Motor Man or anything.