History of Offshore Racing

Offshore racing refers to the where powerboats race from one point in an ocean to another. In most part of the world, the race is governed by the Union Internationale Motonautique (UIM). This article aims at clearly showing and discussing how this type of racing started and how it has evolved over the years.

Who made the first powerboat?

The first powerboat is believed to have been built by Schaldenbrand’s grandfather who with only his hands, built the Chris-Crafts as well as other mahogany treasures, then use one or two of the hugest engine he found to powered. That is where Schaldenbrand caught his bug from. He says that the Sunsation 36 XRTs one his first speedboat rides, which travelled at around 35 miles/ hour. That motivated him together with his brother to kick start their career in making and driving powerboats.

When did the first offshore racing start?

The first race was organized by “The American Power Boat Association,” which itself was founded in 1903. The race was held in 1904 at the Hudson River. Despite the first race being held in New York, the event caused a major change around the Michigan boat builders, near the auto industry within Detroit. More advancement was made and it was manifested by Gar Wood, a well-known wood-boat builder who advocated for his ideas to acquire more horse power on board. Offshore racing however started officially in 1950s with Schaldenbrand and many more powerboat riders from hydroplane backgrounds were involved. They raced for very long distances and they set the ground for upcoming racers. Miami-Nassau won the first event which brought with it a lot of fame. It was very prestigious.  

Was boat building a straight away success?

Charlie McCarthy says that back in the 1960s people attempted so many things in order to see whether it will work or not. Around the same period too, Aronow relocated to Miami and liked the sport. He went on to become one of the best racers through pure determination and personality.

Aronow joined hands with two other designers who helped him with his early powerboats, Walt Walters and Jim Wynne. The latter brought to the market another great innovation off the 1950s that is, “the stern-drive.” Wynne later left the company and came up with the very first stern-drive in his place of work which he sold to “Volvo Penta.” It was then released in 1959.

With the help of his two assistants, Aronow designed boats for his debutant company, “Formula.” Aronow had a “formula” inside as long as 23 feet which he called it the “Cigarette”. He used it to race in one of the numerous events which he himself won most of them.

According to Allan Bron, the 28 Magnum which Harry Schoell designed was the defining boat. Aronow resized and put it in the market as “the 27 Magnum” and begun competing using a Cary that was about 32 feet. He also nicknamed “the cigarette”. He last raced the bought in 1969 when he hanged up from racing.

What were the game changing designs?

The biggest change has happened in the last 20 years. Reggie Fountain is responsible for polarizing powerboats to get mainstream acceptance. The twin-stepped hull is currently one of the most dominant modern performance boats such as 36 XRT.


The history of offshore racing dates back to the 20th century. Over the years there has been massive evolution in both the races, the bodies governing them and the powerboats used in the races. In that case, more of the changes will continue to be seen in the coming years especially with the rate at which technology is growing.