Boat Racing 101: The Basics / The Boats

Interested in trying this for yourself?

Boat Racing is possibly the most family friendly form of motor sport that you can think of.  The folks that race are an extremely nice group and are always very welcoming to anyone with any amount of interest in our sport.  Find an event near you and visit a race, when you do, feel free to approach drivers and crews and ask any questions you would like.  We all are very interested in teaching newcomers about our sport and getting more people involved.  If you’re really serious about driving, just say so BUT don’t be surprised when you are offered a ride and being fitted for safety gear.

The first step is visiting a race.  Check out our schedule to see when a race will be near you this season.

Driver Schooldriving school

In recent years Driver Schools have emerged an an excellent resource for interested participants to “get their feet wet” so to speak; learn the basics and drive a race boat in a non race environment before their first race-day.  Different Clubs handle the driver schools in different ways; some of these dates are listed on the schedule here on The Independent but I know others are not.  If you are interested in finding out if there is a driver school at an upcoming race I would recommend contacting the host club.  I will also post any Driver Schools that I hear of here on the site.

But let me reiterate:  We are very interested in talking to anyone interested in joining our wonderful sport, Stock Outboard racers are pretty easy going people and it doesn’t have to be too formal

My Guarantee: If you try some of the options above and don’t feel like you’re getting anywhere or you just don’t know where to start, just let me know.  If you want to get in a boat just let me know in the comments below; Leave your Name, a way to contact you and where you’re located and I will personally do all I can to get you in a boat or put you in contact with someone who will!

The Boats

In Stock Outboard you will see two different hull styles being run in different classes.  The boats vary in size from just over 8 feet up to 12 or 14 feet depending on the motor/class being run.  The boats are traditionally made of wood; Okume marine grade plywood shell (or in the old days mahogany) over a frame: materials vary; sitka spruce, cedar, ? and increasingly carbon and composites are being used throughout the boats.


Runabouts are shaped more like a larger “cigarette boat” or to some degree more like the boat you run your outboard on “at camp.”  The bottom of the boat will have a flat pad at the back of the boat but the rest of the bottom is rounded on both sides.  The front of the boat comes to a single point.  In the past runabouts drivers would “Roll the Boat Up” in the turns, meaning they would lean out the side and run the boat around the turn on the side or “chine”.  Today you will see some Runabout drivers Roll the Boat Up while other will utilize a fin on the side to help them flat turn the boat in the corner.  Runabouts generally run with a little more of the bottom of the boat in the water than a hydroplane which can feel a little more stable to some but with their rounded bottoms they can also tend to bounce and roll which you would not feel in a hydroplane.  Roll-Up Runabouts can be set up to be able to turn in both directions which makes them the only choice for Marathon races where drivers navigate long courses up and down rivers and streams.



Hydroplanes have a flat bottom with two pads called sponsons on the front that are only meant to come in contact with the water when the boat sets up to turn.  Behind the sponsons thin rails called air traps run down both sides of the bottom.  When the boat is under power in the straightaways, the nose of the boat rises up, air flows under the boat and is caught between the sponsons and the air traps.  This air running under the boat lifts the boat off the water and you are actually riding on a cushion of air, not necessarily the water.  A well set up hydroplane will have very little or none of the bottom of the boat touching the water when it is travelling at speed in the straightaway and the driver will manage the height that the nose of the boat rises by changing position in the cockpit; too much air can raise the nose too high and “blow the boat over”.  When approaching a turn a driver will let off on the throttle and/or move up some n the boat to bring the front down.  A turn fin is attached to the left side of the boat and when the boat comes down enough to drop that into water, the drag on that fin helps the boat make the left turn.



Whether you’re driving a hydroplane or a Runabout, the basic controls are the same.  You will control the steering with you right hand with a standard steering wheel which is attached to the steering bar on the motor via cables.  Your left hand controls your speed with a spring loaded “crash” throttle.  A full squeeze runs the motor wide open, releasing the throttle slows the boat down and if you let go of the throttle the spring automatically releases the throttle and kills the motor, hence the name.  Other safety equipment that you will utilize includes a motor kill switch attached to some part of your body as a secondary safety shut down of the motor should you fall out of the boat, a snell approved helmet, full length, cut resistant Kevlar pants and sleeves and a certified life jacket complete with impact resistant shell.


3 thoughts on “Boat Racing 101: The Basics / The Boats

    • Hi Steven, thanks for checking out my blog. I don’t know that we would know each other. I had followed your blog as I enjoyed the pictures and thought it may brighten my day in between prepping posts, maybe provide some inspiration. Do you know boat racers?

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