RC boat racing is one of the most mysterious forms. Where do I race? How do I get started? What do I need? What happens if I get in someone's way? Is my boat fast enough? What happens if it flips? In this section of my blog I'll answer these valid questions. First I'd like to praise my favorite place to race. My primary race site, home of the Model Mariners, Kaiser Cove Fremont, Ca. Being a former gravel pit, this picturesque lake is recessed in location meaning the lake is protected from wind by its own steep banks creating an ideally predictable race site. This site is not in a remote location. There are plenty of restaurants, lodging, Hobby Shops, a Wal-Mart, and Home Depot in close proximity in case you need anything. We can actually order pizza directly to the race!
Where do I race? A good place to start would be asking your local hobby shop. If that draws a blank you will need to contact both sanctioning bodies NAMBA (North American Model Boaters Association) as well as IMPBA (International Powerboat Association) on their websites to see which "district" you fall into according to where you live. Once you've identified your district, you need to find which is your local club. Check their race schedule, find out when their next race is and show up! If you're afraid to race, at least observe for a weekend or day trip. There are new clubs everywhere eager for new members, so don't be bashful. Find someone who looks friendly and express your interest. One can also find contact information for district directors on the website of either sanctioning body and simply give them a call! These wonderful people are quite helpful and understanding of the new racer.
What do I need? Depending on the district, or club in which you intend to race, most RTR "ready to run" boats fall into the "PLTD" (P-limited) classes in either hydro, or offshore, which include catamarans, and mono hulls. One needs little more than a charger, power supply, a foldable table, and of course the boat with radio to get wet in this fun sport.
What happens if I get in someone's way? Forget about it. Racers from rookie to experienced are very understanding. In fact, most any seasoned racer has the skill to spot a wild boat, and avoid it having not disturbed his groove. If not, his "Pit Man" will alert him, worst case the race announcer.
Is my boat fast enough? Chances are it’s more than fast enough. Racing here in the US is dominated by the PLTD classes, which limit one to a stock motor that comes in an RTR boat. Many of the various speeds are due to different propellers, which is an easy upgrade that you can ask fellow racers at the site, which is the most popular prop for your hull and motor combination. Information is readily available on line as well through various forums and blogs.
What happens if it flips? Any and every race site has a retrieve boat (some powered some row). Many racers are equipped with a retrieve device i.e.: Tee ball attached to an easy cast reel. Some like me prefer a "Chuckitt" dog ball thrower.
I hope this excerpt has been informative. Bottom line, if you love that RC boat, take it to a race. Do NOT be bashful, as you'll learn there are many others who are just beginning. It’s not nearly as difficult as it sounds. Racing is the best way to enhance your experience with anything RC from cars to Heli's. It feels great to be around others who share such passion. Trade stories and ideas with fellow enthusiasts.
As a pro driver, I learn something valuable at every race, mostly from my experience but often from other racers.