Throughout history, people have loved to race things, whether it be animals, or machines; across the ground, or over the waves. History has also seen boats play an essential role in the lives of people around the world. Before planes, they were one of the only ways to travel to faraway places. Since then, boats haven’t just been used for travel, but for sport and leisure. They’ve evolved, and the first motorboat was invented in the 19th century. It wasn’t long before people decided to start racing them, and the rest is, as they say, history.
The Harmsworth Trophy
Just a few years after the invention of motorboats, Alfred Harmsworth founded the first offshore international competition, the Harmsworth Trophy. The first race occurred in 1903, originally as a contestant between countries rather than individuals. Gar Wood dominated the races and won on eight different occasions. He was the first person to go over 100 mph in a motorboat.
These races became extremely popular and were attended by crowds of up to 100,000 each year. This led to offshore powerboat racing becoming a recognized sport. Unfortunately, at the time it was only available to very wealthy individuals. Powerboats were very expensive, and access to water was limited.
During the second half of the 20th century, Harmsworth cup attendance slowed and the competition died out.
Class 1 Money Race
Although many powerboat races filled the vacuum left by the death of the Harmsworth Trophy, the most similar one was the Class 1 World Powerboat Championship. The competition was first held in 1956, and contestants raced from Miami, USA to Nassau, the Bahamas. The race has grown quite a bit since then. Now it is one of the most recognized, as well as dangerous, competitions in powerboat racing history!
Competitors in the race were also very wealthy. Many still are today, too. One of the most successful teams, a man named Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, has a net worth of about £19 billion. He also owns the Emirates Group.
These are just two of the races that helped launch the proud history of offshore powerboat racing. The sport is still extremely exciting, both to participate in and to watch. Races have evolved quite a bit since the 19th century, and its avid fans look forward to what the future will hold.