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Video: watch boats crash at 200mph
This is what happens when people race each other in dinghies with 3,000+bhp
The Lycoming T-55 L-7 is a very powerful, noisy engine. You’ll normally find two of them sat atop big, heavy olive drab Chinook helicopters. With over 3,000bhp a piece, they’ve got enough oomph to get a huddle of army types and weaponry off the ground and to the battlefield.
However, sometimes these engines go astray and find themselves doing a very different job. See, us puny earthlings have an obsession with attaching overly powered engines to things that are incredibly small and lightweight. It’s hot-rodding 101. From this mad V8 Mazda MX-5, to the Clio V6 and Ariel Atom V8. Big engine plus small thing is very much a good thing in Car World. Turns out it’s also A Thing in Boat World. And possibly, even crazier.
There, they strap rather large engines – like the Lycoming T-55 L-7 – to boats. Very, very fast. Very dangerous boats.
It’s what’s known as H1 Unlimited, the fastest circuit racing boats on the planet. It’s F1 for boats but more dangerous and a lot wetter. See, where those engines normally lift 22,600kg when attached to a helicopter, here they’re strapped to exceedingly trick 3,000kg lightweight composite boats, able to skim over the water at 200mph. And not just one of them. Many of them. All racing around at the same time.
The captains of the vessels dress like fighter pilots and fire up engines that idle like an angry blast furnace. A tickle of throttle brings noise and fire. Then more noise, more fire, and quite a lot of thrust. This all translates very quickly into silly, silly speeds.
Now, of course, the problem with water is that it can get a bit choppy. And when a boat doing 200mph hits a wave, it can quickly morph from a boat into a plane, tumble around the air for a bit before landing back on the water again.
It’s a nutty form of motorsport and we love it.