Please come back tomorrow and vote again
Become a Better Boater at Boat Racing School
Outboard Performance Craft (OPC) are capable of speeds in excess of 140 mph, and can pull 5 G's in the turns.
The Need for Speed
The trailer backed down the ramp. Wolf, Fairchild and the support crew were dockside, spinning the boat around to face the course. I got an encouraging smile from Wolf, who was manning the radio.
“Go for it!” her voice called cheerfully inside my helmet.
I made sure the engine was trimmed down and the steering wheel was straight, and then I hit the start button and lightly touched the throttle.
I promptly forgot my nerves and claustrophobia. All that was left in the world was the throaty rumble of the outboard, the view out the tiny cockpit windows and the thrum of the wheel in my hands. I rounded the markers at the east end of the course and, with my heart in my mouth, trimmed up and pressed the gas pedal.
The boat didn’t leap out of the hole. Instead, it hummed, steadily accelerating and sliding across the flat water, faster and faster. All too soon, the west-end marker loomed, so I trimmed down gingerly, unsure of what to expect. The turn wasn’t very tight, but I could feel the pressure in my right shoulder as the boat swung to port. Aha.
I trimmed up coming out of the turn, and the boat started to bounce, porpoising on the slightly wind-riffled lake. So I trimmed up a bit more to allow more air into the tunnel. The boat lifted and leveled off as I carefully monitored the lone dashboard gauge — a homemade gizmo with red and white tape to indicate degrees of trim. Too far into the red, and we’d be airborne. In the not-good way.
By the fourth or fifth lap, I hit my stride. Hearing Wolf’s cheers in my helmet and relaxing my white-knuckle grip on the wheel, I floored the gas on the straightaway and trimmed up to a mark she’d made on the gauge. And I let her coach me through the turns, staying on the gas around the markers and letting the trim do the work.
All too soon, my 10 allotted laps were finished. I motored to the school’s dock and cut the engine.
“Look at that smile,” Wolf said, beaming, as she helped me out of the cockpit. “That was awesome.”
It was. Every highway-to-the-danger-zone moment of it. I wanted to do it again.
Allen, the OPC chairman, reminded me that racing is a lot more accessible than most people think. A complete rig with boat and trailer runs between $4,000 and $10,000; however, APBA members also may take advantage of a leasing program that provides boat, fuel and all support services at a weekend race for about $750. Sold.