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What is F1H2O?

The UIM F1H2O World Cham­pi­on­ship is the ‘flag­ship’ inter­na­tion­al series of single-seat­er inshore cir­cuit power­boat racing.


Highly com­pet­it­ive, intensely chal­len­ging, risky and enter­tain­ing, the F1H2O World Cham­pi­on­ship is the ulti­mate adren­al­in rush and regarded as one of the most spec­tac­u­lar and excit­ing sports in the world.


The series attracts up to 20 of the world’s lead­ing drivers and is a sport that has to be seen to be believed as these dimin­ut­ive tun­nel-hull cata­marans enter hair­pin turns at over 90mph and top 140mph on the straights.


Pic­ture the scene; 18 to 20 sleek, power­ful and light­weight cata­marans lin­ing up on the start pon­toon. Inside each cock­pit sits a lone indi­vidu­al peer­ing through a tiny wind­screen. One hand grasps the steer­ing wheel, the oth­er poised over the start but­ton. The ten­sion inside the cock­pit is intense as the drivers wait for the cru­cial start. Bey­ond the cock­pit, an eer­ie silence des­cends over the entire arena, all atten­tion fixed on the start.


No soon­er does the wait end when 10,000hp of highly tuned brute power bursts into life send­ing the fleet scream­ing towards the first corner leav­ing noth­ing but a glor­i­ous foun­tain of white spray in its wake.


Now in its 35th sea­son, the UIM F1H2O World Cham­pi­on­ship will mark the ninth time that the UK has hos­ted a round; the eight pre­vi­ous rounds were staged at Holme Pierre­pont (1981); Bris­tol (1982 & 1990); Lon­don (1983, 1984 & 1985); and Cardiff (1993 & 1994).


The last Grand Prix of Lon­don was also staged at Roy­al Vic­tor­ia Dock, and was won by Brit­ish driver, Bob Spald­ing. That same year and fol­low­ing two fur­ther vic­tor­ies at the Munich (GER) and Lyon (FRA) Grands Prix, Spald­ing was crowned the UIM For­mula 1 World Cham­pi­on.


Dur­ing the 2018 UIM F1H2O World Cham­pi­on­ship, the pres­ti­gi­ous num­ber 1 plate will be car­ried by the defend­ing four-time world cham­pi­on, Alex Carella from Italy.


The six-metre-long, 2.1-metre-wide, 550kg boats (weight includes resid­ual fuel and oil, the driver with per­son­al equip­ment, but excludes loose water), which carry a max­im­um of 120 litres of fuel, can accel­er­ate from 0–100km/h in four seconds.


All boats are powered by the Mer­cury 2.5litre, two-stroke, out­board engine, which gen­er­ates near to 400hp (at 10,500rpm), and has been used by the UIM For­mula 1 World Cham­pi­on­ship (now the UIM F1H2O World Cham­pi­on­ship) since 2000.


Since its incep­tion in 1981 the UIM For­mula 1 World Cham­pi­on­ship has played out 272 Grands Prix in 32 coun­tries across five con­tin­ents, while 13 drivers have claimed the world title, with 47 of them becom­ing mem­bers of the illus­tri­ous Grands Prix win­ners’ club.


Of the 13 world cham­pi­ons, sev­en are mul­tiple title win­ners: Italy’s Guido Cap­pellini is the most dec­or­ated with 10 wins; Italy’s Alex Carella and Amer­ic­an Scott Gill­man with four each; France’s Phil­ippe Chiappe and Italy’s Ren­ato Molin­ari with three each; and Finland’s Sami Selio and Great Britain’s Jonath­an Jones with two apiece.


The boats’ safety fea­tures include: an airbag; a cock­pit and hull built from car­bon fibre, Kevlar, syn­thet­ic fibre, air­ex and nomex; a bul­let-proof wind­screen; and plastic foam-tipped hulls to avoid pen­et­ra­tion in case of col­li­sion. Addi­tion­ally, and just like their For­mula 1® coun­ter­parts, F1H2O drivers wear the head and neck sup­port (HANS) device.


While boats in the 1980s were con­struc­ted from thin ply­wood and fea­tured an open, exposed cock­pit; today’s boats are made from strong, light­weight com­pos­ite mater­i­als, such as car­bon fibre and Kevlar, and in the interest of safety the driver is now strapped into his/her seat with­in a ‘safety cell’, which was developed by Brit­ish design­er and racer, Chris Hodges.


F4-S boats are con­struc­ted of the same mater­i­als as For­mula 1 boats and are a sim­il­ar twin- spon­son, tun­nel-hull cata­maran design. Although they are approx­im­ately a quarter of the weight (118kg) of For­mula 1 boats and have con­sid­er­ably less power­ful engines (60bhp), they still man­age to reach speeds of over 70mph.



About H2O Racing

H2O Racing is an inter­na­tion­al sports man­age­ment, mar­ket­ing and media com­pany respons­ible for organ­ising and pro­mot­ing events in power­boat and jet ski racing.


The multi-faceted com­pany, foun­ded by Nicolo di San Germano in 2011, is respons­ible for three Uni­on Inter­na­tionale Moto­naut­ique (UIM) sanc­tioned prop­er­ties; the F1H2O World Power­boat Cham­pi­on­ship, the Aquabike Cir­cuit World Cham­pi­on­ship and the Nations Cup Power­boat World Series.


The com­pany is the world­wide tele­vi­sion and com­mer­cial rights hold­er for all Cham­pi­on­ships and respons­ible for all com­mer­cial, mar­ket­ing, tele­vi­sion, media and organ­isa­tion­al activ­it­ies.


Pres­id­ent: Nicolo di San Germano


F1H2O his­tory

The concept of a single uni­fied cham­pi­on­ship for inshore power­boats had been con­ceived three years pre­vi­ously in 1978 when Dav­id Par­kin­son, an exper­i­enced PR man­ager, was offered the sup­port of Mer­cury Mar­ine, one of his cli­ents, if he could estab­lish such a series. The concept became the Can­on Trophy, sponsored by anoth­er of Parkinson’s cli­ents, Can­on Inc.


A steady escal­a­tion in engine devel­op­ment between Mer­cury and arch-rival OMC was already under­way as the Can­on Trophy was formed, and this arms race ulti­mately res­ul­ted in massively power­ful 3.5-litre (210 in3 ) V8 engines being used and led to the cre­ation of the OZ class. Each man­u­fac­turer offered as many as half a dozen drivers with a free sup­ply of these OZ class engines in a bid to suc­ceed. The OZ engines differed from the ON class which was centred around a stand­ard 2-litre capa­city and con­sequently OZ machines, with their super­i­or power, swept all before them. Mat­ters came to a head when, in an attempt to extract an even great­er advant­age, Ren­ato Molin­ari turned up with two engines on the back of his boat at the Itali­an Grand Prix. A peti­tion was signed by 28 drivers in 1980 to out­law the OZ boats and the For­mula ON Drivers Asso­ci­ation (FONDA) was born. Mer­cury with­drew their T4 engine and the split was con­firmed. OZ and ON classes would have their own cham­pi­on­ships in 1981.


Some­what under­stand­ably, both cham­pi­on­ships attemp­ted to use the title of For­mula 1 to mar­ket them­selves as the pin­nacle of power­boat racing. For much of 1981 how­ever it was largely irrel­ev­ant. John Play­er had chosen to sup­port the OMC-powered OZ cham­pi­on­ship, giv­ing it not only an advant­age in speed and tech­no­logy, but also mar­ket­ing. The cham­pi­on­ship was still in its early stages with a small grid, but FONDA’s ON class wasn’t much bet­ter either and was effect­ively the remains of the Can­on Trophy. Journ­al­ists of the peri­od con­tin­ued to use the famil­i­ar terms of ON and OZ to avoid con­fu­sion, and it was only when the UIM stepped in to sort out the mess that res­ul­ted in the OZ class being awar­ded For­mula 1 status, with the ON class giv­en the con­sol­a­tion title of “World Grand Prix”. Thus, with the back­ing of the drivers’ asso­ci­ation behind it, the FONDA World Grand Prix Series entered into a peri­od of being over­shad­owed by its big­ger, faster broth­er, the For­mula 1 World Series.


By bring­ing togeth­er the fin­an­cial sup­port and mar­ket­ing abil­ity of John Play­er Spe­cial, as well as the clar­ity and con­sist­ency of a cham­pi­on­ship with an estab­lished event struc­ture, one which focused on sprint races rather than a mix­ture that included endur­ance races in pre­vi­ous years, the cat­egory allowed for a rel­at­ively stable envir­on­ment in which the top power­boat teams and drivers could com­pete. A fixed points sys­tem made com­pre­hen­sion easy for spec­tat­ors, with it match­ing its motor racing equi­val­ent with 9, 6, 4, 3, 2, and finally 1 point on offer for the top six fin­ish­ers.


Safety was always loom­ing large in the back­ground of the F1 series. The ever-increas­ing speeds of the 3.5- litre V8s, as OMC con­tin­ued to refine them, meant that sur­viv­ing a ‘big one’ was becom­ing less and less likely. In 1984, mat­ters reached a tra­gic con­clu­sion when Tom Per­civ­al was the last of four drivers to lose their lives in the space of a mat­ter of months. Cees van der Velden pulled his three-boat Ben­son & Hedges- backed team from the final three races of the sea­son, and Carls­berg can­celled their part­ner­ship with Roger Jen­kins, hav­ing told the 1982 cham­pi­on, “anoth­er death or ser­i­ous injury, and they were out”. OMC were able to pull togeth­er a depleted field to see out the sea­son, but the writ­ing was on the wall. It was the begin­ning of the end for For­mula 1 as the OZ class.


Keen to keep the cham­pi­on­ship run­ning how­ever, OMC gave the F1 World Series a facelift. With Ben­son & Hedges vacat­ing the series’ title spon­sor­ship, in came Cham­pi­on to cre­ate the Cham­pi­on Spark Plug F1 World Series, and a new Bel­gian pro­moter, Pro One, was tasked with turn­ing the series around. Prize money was sig­ni­fic­antly increased to attract drivers and a great­er pres­ence in the United States was sought. Boat design­er Chris Hodges intro­duced the first iter­a­tion of his safety cell which paved the way for a revolu­tion in boat safety and Bob Spald­ing won the title driv­ing for the Per­civ­al Hodges team. On the out­side, it appeared as if For­mula 1 was set for a new peri­od of growth, until OMC uncovered the level of spend­ing that Pro One had under­taken to raise the pro­file of the cham­pi­on­ship. Rumours sug­ges­ted the pro­moter had spent the pro­mo­tion budget for the next three years in a single sea­son. Fig­ures of $4–5 mil­lion were passed around. OMC called time on the whole European oper­a­tion at the end of 1985 and in 1986, based solely in North Amer­ica, the F1 World Series was wound down before it was com­pletely assim­il­ated into the domest­ic US cham­pi­on­ship.


From 1987 to 1989, there was no offi­cial For­mula 1 cham­pi­on­ship. The FONDA World Grand Prix Series con­tin­ued to oper­ate with title spon­sor­ship from Bud­weiser and bene­fit­ted from F1’s demise in Europe as drivers moved back over. In simple terms Mercury’s two litre for­mula had out­las­ted OMC’s mon­ster 3.5- litre V8s but the real­ity was far more com­plex than that. In the United States, For­mula 1 lived on, but as far but as far as the world stage was con­cerned, the power­boat com­munity once again turned to Dav­id Par­kin­son, who hav­ing estab­lished the Can­on Trophy back in 1978, was still at the helm of the FONDA series into which it had evolved. With no oth­er chal­lenger unlike ten years pre­vi­ously, the UIM rein­stated the For­mula 1 cat­egory to World Cham­pi­on­ship status and in 1990 the FONDA World Grand Prix Series became the For­mula 1 World Cham­pi­on­ship.


Dav­id Par­kin­son con­tin­ued to man­age and pro­mote the cham­pi­on­ship until the end of 1993, at which point he handed over to Nicolo di San Germano, who con­tin­ues to lead the series to the present day. Di San Germano has over­seen a peri­od of con­tin­ued improve­ments in driver safety, man­aged the cham­pi­on­ship through mul­tiple eco­nom­ic down­turns and seen a shift in focus for the series away from Europe towards the Middle East and Asia, driv­en by a need for fin­an­cial sta­bil­ity.


About Tian Rong Sports

Tian Rong Sports is a pro­fes­sion­al com­pany oper­at­ing and invest­ing in the inter­na­tion­al sports enter­tain­ment industry. 
Tian Rong Sports is the exclus­ive insti­tu­tion author­ised by the Uni­on Inter­na­tionale Moto­naut­ique (UIM) to pro­mote the UIM F1H2O World Cham­pi­on­ship in China and the UK, and has suc­cess­fully held the Grand Prix of China 19 times. It owns all com­mer­cial rights and interests of this event with­in the ter­rit­ory of China and the UK. 
The CTIC F1 Power­boat China Team is co-foun­ded by the China Water Sports Admin­is­tra­tion and Tian Rong Sports. In sea­son 2014, 2015 and 2016, the team has con­sec­ut­ively won a hat-trick of UIM F1H2O World Cham­pi­on­ship titles. 
In this new era, Tian Rong Sports aims at renov­at­ing itself in order to fuel the devel­op­ment of China’s nation­al mari­time strategy, as well as the ‘Belt and Road’ ini­ti­at­ive.