All things
power boat racing...

Racing Glossary

Racing Glossary:
If you're new to the sport of powerboat racing, one of the first things you'll notice when you join the APBA and attend a race is that there's definitely a unique racing vocabulary. Before you jump into conversation in the pits with other drivers, we recommend you take a look and get to know some of these terms...that way you'll at least look like you know what you're talking about!

In naval terminology, aft means towards the rear of the boat. When you move toward the stern, you are going aft.

Parts sold commercially to augment or modify an existing engine are aftermarket parts.

The boat’s bottom surface or section of the main hull, behind the sponsons.

Air Trap
A tunnel created by the inner vertical walls of the sponsons, which channels air forced underneath by the boat’s forward motion.

American Power Boat Association:
The APBA is the governing body for power boat racing in the United States

The center part of the boat.

Annual Meeting: 
Four days of meetings held once a year in which APBA members come together to make the rules that govern their sport.  The Hall of Champions dinner is also held at the annual meeting.

APBA Council
There shall be a Council of the APBA which shall meet at the Annual Meeting of the Association and shall be advisory to the Board of Directors.  The members of Council shall consist of the President, the immediate Past President, all Region Chairmen, all Category Chairmen and 12 Members-at-Large.

If a disqualification occurs during a race, racers have the right to file an appeal to the referee of the event.  The referee forwards the appeal to the category chairman.  If the result is unfavorable, the appealee has the option to appeal to the appeals committee which would make the final decision

The right center side of the boat is the starboard beam; the left center side is the port beam.

Bona Fide Starter
Any boat that belongs in the class for which the heat is run, which enters the race course within the allotted time, and crosses the starting line no later than allowed by the rules.

The front, or forward part of the boat.

One of several inflatable, anchored floating markers that indicate key spots on the race course.

A division of power boat racing

Category Chairman
The elected head of the category who presides over all official category meetings

Cavitation Plate
A permanent horizontal plate on the vertical shaft of the outboard right above the propeller. Parallel to the water, cavitation plates reduce the potentially damaging force of water on the propeller.

The part of the boat below the waterline. A chine may be rounded or “soft”; or squared off—a “hard” chine.

The notice describing an upcoming sanctioned APBA race, sent to members.

Clock Start
The field of drivers comes around the course so they cross the start/finish line just before the clock hits zero.

The part of the boat where the driver sits or kneels to drive

Each Racing Commission shall act as one common body in all matters involving discipline, new classes, appeals from rulings of race committees and referees, developing and maintaining rules for each class in their category, national championship selection and selection of officials for national championship events subject to its grant of authority.

Competition Record
A speed record set during a race

A surface that curves inward.

The removable cover of an engine.

Lift from the centerline or keel to the chine (sometimes referred to as a V). An example of dead rise is the keel being 0 and the chine being 1” higher. Viewed from the front, the bottom of the boat would form a slight “V” shape. (See diagram). Generally the more deadrise a boat has, the more likely the boat will be able to run at higher speeds without the pounding of the water slowing racers down.

Driving School
Learn to drive the big boats.  The APBA driving school is held once a year in Dayton, OH.  Drivers are able to drive a 5 litre inboard as well as the potential for other crafts.

Elimination Heat
Only the top placing competitors in an elimination heat are allowed to go on to race in the final.

Engine Cowling
The light weight fiberglass covering used to protect the engine from water. Boats will often race without an engine cowling, which is usually because the boat was upside down at some point in a previous race and the cowling found its way to the bottom of a lake or river somewhere in the Continental United States.   

Entrance Buoy
The buoy marking a turn.

Fair Start
The instant when the bow of the first bona fide starter crosses the starting line no earlier than allowed by the rules.

A device to keep the boat stable in the turns.

Toward the front of the boat.

Full Field
The maximum allowed number of competitors racing.

Gear Case
The part of an engine that transfers force from the powerhead to the propeller.

Gold Cup
The world’s oldest motorsports trophy. The Gold Cup is one of the most known as one of the most prestigious trophies in motorsports. Created in 1904 by Tiffanys, the Detroit Gold Cup Race is held annually on the Detroit River by the Unlimited category

The upper edge of the side of a boat.

Hall of Champions
Considered one of the Highest Honors in the APBA, Drivers from each race category are annually inducted into the hall of champions based on extraordinary performance and achievement.

Headquarters (HQ)
The APBA headquarters are located in Eastpointe, MI at 17640 E. Nine Mile Rd.

A single continuous competitive event. (A race may consist of several heats, and multiple races may make up a regatta.)

High Points
The APBA High Points is a national ranking system for racers. Throughout the racing year (November 1, October 31), racers accumulate points based on their finishes. A maximum of seven events are counted towards year end High Points totals. Unless otherwise specified, the scoring for races is defined in the General Racing Rules as follows:






Fifth ...........................127

Sixth........................... 95

Seventh...................... 71

Eighth ........................ 53

Ninth.......................... 40

Tenth.......................... 30

Eleventh .................... 23

Twelfth...................... 17

Thirteenth.................. 13

Fourteenth ................. 10

Fifteenth .......................7

Sixteenth ......................5





Honor Squadron
The Honor Squadron recognizes APBA members who have made a significant contribution to the sport of Powerboat racing and to the APBA. With the maximum number of inductees a year is limited to three; induction into the Honor Squadron is the APBA’s highest honor.

A boat’s internal framing, covered by an outer shell, usually made of plywood, fiberglass or composites such as Kevlar, carbon fiber, nomex honeycomb, foamcore paneling or a combination of these materials. Some categories and classes have restrictions on hull types.

Hydroplane typically refers to a three point suspension craft. A three point hydroplane has two forward planing surfaces (sponsons) and a propeller at the aft end of the boat . Using lift from air passing under the boat, hydroplanes at full speed will have only the sponsons and propeller touching the water as it skims the surface of the water.

Immersed Surfaces
The wetted surface of the hull, including the bottom and cines, from transom to bow.

Jump the Gun
To cross the start line before the clock hits zero – Try not to do this.

Junior Class
From ages 9 -15, youth racers are eligible to race lightweight runabouts or hydros in the J Class.

The “backbone” that runs along the inboard edges of a catamarn’s hulls or the lower edge of a “V” hull. The keel provides boats with straight line stability for the hull, and more general course-keeping abilities.  

A point to point race (a straight line).  Kilo races are usually raced to set speed records

A style of open-cockpit raceboat without a seat, in which the driver kneels while driving.

LeMans Start
Drivers are lined up side by side on a dock or beach, and start the instant the signal is given.

Parallel to keel.

The period before a clock start where boats freely run a circular or triangular course to warm up the boats engines and time the perfect start.

A boat with one planing surface, such as a runabout.

National Champion
This award is given to the driver who wins at the category's national championship.  The overall category champion is the high point champion - Only APBA members can win a national championship.

National Commissioner
The National Commissioner is appointed by the APBA Board of Directors and acts as the final appellate authority within APBA.

Negative Dead Rise
Where the bottom of the boat arches (is concave). Negative dead rise is not permitted in any runabout—either fore to aft or port to starboard.

North American Champion
The driver who wins at the category's North American championship.  The winner must be a member of APBA or CBF.  The North American championship alternates between the United States and Canada

On Plane
A boat is on plane when it achieves enough speed to run on top of the water (touching at only a few points) rather than plowing through it. Typically only a hydroplane’s sponsons and propeller touch the water when it is on plane.

The forward most projection on each side of a boat. See Sponson.

Planing Surface
The lowest immersed surface from the aft end forward (excluding hydro airtraps) as defined by the hull categories.

Port and Starboard
If you are in the boat looking forward, the right side of the boat is the starboard side; the left side is the port side.

The part of the engine where fuel is burned to generate power.

APBA President
The President of the APBA is an elected official serving a two year term. Terms go from November 1- October 31st.

Propeller (Magazine)
Propeller is the official publication of the APBA, produced digitally on a monthly basis. Four quarterly editions are also printed and distributed to APBA members.

APBA's onsite representative, responsible for enforcing the rules of the race or regatta. Each race has at least one chief referee and one assistant referee.

The complete set of races and time trials that take place pursuant to a single application for an APBA sanction.

The primary purpose of each Regional Organization is to establish local representatives who are interested in and willing to be active in participation and furthering the aims and purposes of the Association. The APBA Currently has 16 official regions. Visit the Clubs page to locate the closest local club in your region. 

A small plate, custom-made for each type of engine, with an aperture that limits fuel consumption. Restrictor plates are used by racers to reduce engines power, allowing them to race in multiple classes with the same engine, or allowing their kids to race in the J Class with the same engine.

In a profile view (fore and aft), the rise from the keel to chine is the “rocker”. Aptly named as boats with a deep keel, will “rock” on its side when placed on an even surface. (not recommended)

A monoplane, or boat with a single planing surface.

APBA’s written approval and documentation of a regatta.

Securely Fastened
A Driver is securely fasted when he or she does not fall out when hull is turned upside down.

Shear Line
The fore and aft curvature from stem to transom of the deck as shown in side elevation.

The lowest part of the gearcase, below the propeller

One of two projections on either side of a hydroplane’s main hull; they are the main planing surfaces.

Straightaway Record
A record set by one boat on a surveyed course, usually making two consecutive passes by a buoy. (Also called a Kilo record

The back panel of the boat, vertical to the water, where the engine is mounted.

At right angles (90°) to keel.

A concavity greater than 1/16” within the planing surface.

Turn Boat/ Judge
In addition to officials on the judges’ stand, turn judges in boats in the turns make calls and display flags.

Vice President
The Vice President shall be selected by the Board of Directors to a term to coincide with that of the President. The Vice President will perform the duties assigned by the President or the Board of Directors. In the absence of the President, or in the event of the President’s death, inability or refusal to act, the Vice President shall perform the duties of the President.

World Champion
The World Championship is an APBA and UIM sanctioned event where any nation's participant can enter with permission from the national authority of their home country.