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NOTE: All the images presented here are Copyright © James Hervat and may not be reproduced or without the written permission of the copyright holder. The high-speed sport of Powerboat racing made its inaugural appearance at Sheboygan, Wisconsin with The Mercury Racing Midwest Challenge on August 11-13, 2023. Two distinct types of boats competed that weekend: Formula 1s and three classes of offshore racers. Formula 1 boats are about 17 feet in length. Powered by 400-HP Mercury V-6 engines, they are capable of speeds over 130 MPH. My own research on these machines (I’m a newbie to the sport) says they can out-accelerate their land-bound F1 car cousins. One characteristic the boats definitely have over their car counterparts is cornering. To the spectator, the turns are sometimes so abrupt they’re almost jarring to watch. Since the boats approach the turns at almost top speed (boats don’t have brakes), the drivers are subjected to 4.5 Gs, almost twice what the car F1 drivers experience in the turns. The offshore boats are somewhat different animals. They are much larger than the F1s (thirty to almost feet long), and they present a lower, more streamlined profile. They look fast just standing still. When they’re moving, they can do 160 MPH. While the F1’s used a mile-long course located within the breakwaters of Sheboygan harbor, the larger boats lived up to their name, contesting on a five-mile course plotted on the rougher open waters of Lake Michigan. Piloting offshores is a two-person team effort, with a driver and a throttle person needed to compete. At this writing, the POWERBOATS AT SHEBOYGAN gallery is a work in progress. Please check back as additional images are added.
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