Updated: 29/10/03

Getting Started In Stock Outboard Racing

[Watching A Race] [The Course] [The Heat] [The Elimination] [The Start]
[The Race] [The Finish] [Disqualification's]

How to watch a Stock Outboard race

Many people miss some of the enjoyment of Stock Outboard racing because they don't understand the fundamentals of class difference of the meaning of the flag colours at the starting line.
First of all, Stock Outboard racing is not the thundering inboards that people see in television commercials. If a parallel with auto racing could be drawn, it might be said that the inboard is the Grand Prix or Indy Car while the Stock Outboard is the dirt track racer or possibly more skin to snowmobile racing. Stock Outboard racing is relatively inexpensive and highly competitive. For instance, there are more Stock racers in North America than all other closed course divisions combined and this leads to the need for elimination heats and usually a full field of twelve boats in the final for each class.
To help clarify the mystery surrounding the boat race, the key elements can be explained as follows.

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Closed Course

A closed course is contained within a distance of 1.25 miles. It usually is oval and laid out using three or more markers buoys at each end with other markers indicating the starting line and outside line of the course.

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One heat of racing consists of 3 laps around the closed course. A heat may be either a final or an elimination heat. There are 2 heats per class. Points are scored in each heat to establish the overall class winner.

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Elimination Heat

For safety reasons, rules dictate the no more than 12 boats are permitted to compete at any one time. Often the number of entries in one class will exceed this maximum creating a need for elimination heats. The entries are divided into equal groups by chance draw. Elimination heats are run off to establish twelve qualifiers for the final heat.

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Closed course racing employs a "flying" start. Drivers are notified by the raising of a GREEN flag 5 minutes to the start. Drivers are expected to get their boats in the water and running. With 1 minute remaining, a WHITE flag is raised and the course is closed to any remaining boats in the pits. At this time a large one minute clock is set in motion. The instant the clock runs out to zero the race is officially underway. Drivers will time their speed and position to cross the starting line the instant the clock runs out. If they are too early they are disqualified and if they are too late they are at a great disadvantage and only the most skilled drivers will be successful from this position.

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The Race

The start is so critical! Drivers will take a few runs across the start line prior to the one minute gun just to gauge how long it takes them to reach the line from various points behind it. The driver wants to hit that line at full speed just as the clock zeros. Precision timing and position is everything.
Getting into the first turn in first position eliminates the spray washed traffic jam that occurs at the first corner. It's easier to steer a rig around a corner when it is not being hosed down by rooster tails and battered over the wakes of sever or so boats.
Boats within a class are fairly evenly matched for speed with only a mile or two per hour separating the top three or four boats. So why is there wide margins between the boats as the race progresses? Rough water can be a major cause, but aside from the first turn after the start, it is less of a worry for the driver than airated water from the preceding boats. Propeller slippage is a big factor. In fact selecting the proper propeller to suit the water conditions and race course is a major part of "setting up" the boat and many of the best drivers spend hours testing and changing to find any advantage over the competition. The propeller can be compared to tires and gear changes in a racing car.
The water behind the lead boats is churned into a mass of foaming air pockets in which the propeller has less bite. The lead boat has the advantage of "solid water", an unobstructed view of the course ahead, and the knowledge that if he stays close to the "rail" while going around, his or her chances of winning are much better.
Is there any way to overcome a trailing situation brought about by a bad start? Yes. It requires a faster boat, or a more daring driver, and luck. By running wider on the course, outside the line of the boats ahead a driver may find solid water. They have to travel a longer route, hence, they must run faster on the straight and deeper into the turns before backing off the throttle. When you a driver do just that, look out... YOU ARE WATCHING A REAL BOAT RACE!

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The Finish

The WHITE flag is displayed to each boat as it enters its last lap. As each boat finishes it is given the CHECKERED flag. After crossing the finish line, a boat may not interfere with any of the boats still in the race and must stay in the infield or circle the course until the BLACK flag is displayed on the judges stand. All boats must then return to the pits as the heat is officially completed.

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