Boating Safety and Safe Boating Blog

Thursday, April 8th, 2011

World's Most Amazing Boat Races

Whether it's about the speed, the stamina, the boat design or all of the above, boat racing in all its forms is a fascinating competition with many unique aspects and dimensions. It is as much a battle of man against man, man against water, as it is a collaboration among men and the water they ride.

Where there is water, there is opportunity for racing. And with a boat license you can acquire all the skills to race like a pro! Here are six of the world's most amazing boat races.

Nehru Trophy Boat Race

Location: Alappuzha, Kerala, India

Nehru trophy Boat Race

Image source: Article Base

The Nehru Trophy Boat Race is an annual event held on the second Saturday of August every year. It is Alappuzha's (aka Alleppey's) most important tourist event and the most competitive and popular boat race in all of Kerala. Held in the gorgeous, lush backwaters of Punnamda Lake, spectators gather in the thousands to watch the boat race's most popular event: the race of the Chundan Vallams (i.e. Snake Boats). Chundans measure 100-120 feet and carry 90-100 rowers. These rowers produce 90 to 120 strokes per minute and can cover a distance of 1.4 km in 5 minutes. The Chundan Vallam holds the record for biggest water vessel used for sports purpose.

Fun Fact: The Nehru Trophy Boat Race got its name when Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of Independent India visited Kerala in 1962 and had his first experience sailing in a snake-boat. On his return to Delhi, Nehru donated a Silver Trophy, which is a replica of a snake boat.

Stanley International Dragon Boat Race

Location: Stanley Bay, Hong Kong, China

Stanley Dragon Boat Race

The Dragon Boat Festival has been celebrated annually in China for over 2000 years, with its most popular event being the Stanley Dragon Boat Race. Over 140 teams from around the world compete in this visually astounding event. Dragon boats vary in length and crew size. A standard dragon boat can carry around 22 crew members, comprised of 20 paddlers in pairs facing the bow of the boat. One drummer (the heartbeat of the boat) is at the bow facing the paddlers, and one sweep (a steerer) is at the rear. The drummer leads the paddlers through the race using the drum beat to indicate the frequency and synchronicity of all the paddlers' strokes.

Fun Fact: The current Guinness World Record for longest distance travelled in a dragon boat was 340 miles, down the Missouri River, and took 38 hours and 5 minutes.

The Boat Race/Xchanging Boat Race

Location: Thames River, London, England

Oxford vs Cambridge University Boat Race

Image source: Geekrowers

Known simply as 'The Boat Race', this renowned rowing race is a competition between the Oxford University Boat Club and Cambridge University's Boat Club. In 2010 an estimated quarter of a million people watched the race live from the banks of the Thames River and millions on television. The course is four and a quarter miles (6.779 km) beginning at Putney and finishing at Mortlake. The rowing boat is Olympic class and called an Eight, as it is designed for eight rowers. The first race was in 1829 and it has been held annually (generally on the last Saturday of March or the first Saturday of April) since 1856, with the exception of cholera outbreak in London in 1831 and the two world wars.

Fun Fact: In 1981, Oxford selected Sue Brown the first woman coxswain (the person who steers the boat). She coxed in 1981 and 1982 and Oxford won on both occasions.

Super Boat International Boat Race

Location: United States

Super International Boat Race

Super Boat International produces powerboat racing events for the fastest offshore race boats in the world. With aptly named superboats such as War Paint, Watch Your Back and the Instigator, these speed fiends power through the waves at speeds of up to 200 mph on rectangular racecourses, which average six miles in length.

Fun Fact: Super Boat International events have attracted many celebrity racers including Don Johnson, Kurt Russell, Chuck Norris, Bruce Jenner and Jason Priestley.

International Hot Boat Association World Finals

Location: Phoenix, Arizona, United States

International Hot Boat Association

On your marks. Get set...Drag! Drag boat racing is a lot like land drag racing, but adapted to water. Two high performance race boats compete in an acceleration race over a measured quarter mile straightway (1,3320 feet). Standard drag race boats reach speeds of 100-140 mph. Top Fuel Hydroplane class is the premier category of drag boat racing. They are the water based equivalent to Top Fuel Dragsters. These drag boats are capable of covering the quarter mile in less than four seconds with a terminal speed of around 260 mph (400 km/h)!

Fun Fact: In 1987, Eddie Hill set an all-time speed record of 285.98 mph at the Chief Auto Parts Nationals at Texas Motorplex, becoming the first person to hold both the land and water speed records simultaneously.

The Great River Amazon Raft Race

Location: Iquitos, Peru

Great River Amazon Raft Race

Image source: Dawn on the Amazon Blog

Rafters, rowers and paddlers from all over the world unite for this one-of-a-kind rafting adventure. Not only does the race take 3 days, covering 112 miles of mighty Amazon River, the teams of four are required to build their own log rafts, one day before the race! The first Amazon Raft Race took place on the July 29, 1999, on the Nanay River and was 12 miles long. The winning team completed the course in 4 hours and 20 minutes.

Fun Fact: The Great River Amazon Raft Race was founded by Mike Collis, who had moved to Iquitos from Birmingham, England for a "quiet life". In 1999 Mike was asked by the Director of Tourism in Iquitos if he had any ideas to promote tourism in the Amazon region. Mike told him that for more than 25 years he had organized raft races in England and from there, the Greta Race was born.