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sport of navigating a motor-powered vessel on the water. It is done on either fresh- or saltwater and may be competitive or recreational. The first successful motorboat traveled (1887) a few yards on the Seine River in Paris. As the internal-combustion engine was improved, the motorboat became a practical means of transportation and motorboating became a popular sport. In 1903 the Harmsworth Trophy Race, one of the sport's most prestigious international competitions, was inaugurated in Great Britain. In the following year the Gold Cup Race, the premier U.S. competition, was first held.

Motorboating did not become widely popular until after World War II. Since then, however, it has grown tremendously, as greater affluence, increased leisure time, and mass production made it possible for more and more people to own motorboats. By 1996 there were estimated to be 12 million such boats in U.S. waters, and calls were increasing for stricter licensing and training of operators.

The smaller motorboats, traditionally called runabouts, range from 10 to 22 ft (3–6.7 m) in length; cabin cruisers, often equipped with facilities for cooking, dining, and sleeping, may be from 20 to 60 ft (6.1–18.3 m) long. The larger and more luxurious cabin cruisers are often called yachts.

Recreational boats are generally powered by a gasoline or diesel engine that turns a submerged propeller located behind the boat. Engines may be of either the outboard or inboard type. Outboard engines, generally found in smaller boats, are mounted at the back of the craft, which is steered by rotating the engine. The larger inboard-type vessels have their engine in the middle of the boat and are steered with a wheel-controlled rudder; the engine is attached to the propeller by a drive shaft beneath the craft. Certain classes of racing boats are jet-powered and are able to attain speeds of 250 mph (402 kph). The fastest propeller-driven racing boats can travel about 175 mph (282 kph).


See J. West, Modern Powerboats (1970); N. E. Fletcher and J. D. Ladd, Family Sports Boating (1972); E. A. Zadig, The Complete Book of Boating (1972).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a sport which includes racing and the recreational use of motorboats. It is a sport dependent on technology. There are sporting boats, racing boats, rubber rafts, and boats powered by air propellers. Different types of boats are classified according to engine displacement or maximum total body weight and power capacity and are then subdivided into classes which include, aside from basic boats (see Table 1), rubber rafts, tourist boats with diesel engines, and so on. A so-called unlimited class is provided for in al-most all types, allowing freedom in the choice of engine and body.

Table 1. Basic types and classes of racing boats accepted in the USSR
TypeClassEngine displacement (cu cm)
Outboard racing motorboats ...............OJup to 175
Outboard sporting motorboats ...............SJup to 175
Inboard racing motorboats ...............R1up to 1,000
Inboard sporting motorboats ...............S1up to 1,000

All types and classes of racing boats are classified according to an international index. Speed records are registered for specific distances or for certain periods of time. Races are held on circular courses, marked by buoys or signs; the start and finish are usually at the same place. In foreign countries, boat rallies are widespread, as are long-distance ocean races. Motorboating contributes to the development of technology and develops quick reflexes and resourcefulness; it serves as the best method of testing new construction under race conditions and aids in the perfection of engines and boats.

In Europe, the USA, and Australia, motorboating began in the early 1900’s and developed rapidly after World War I. In 1903 an Englishman, S. Edge, reached a record speed of 31.46 km/hr. The absolute speed record (as of Jan. 1, 1970) was set by an American, L. Taylor (1967, in a jet-propelled boat)—459.0 km/hr. The world record in a boat of the un-limited class with an inboard turbojet engine and carrying a screw propeller was established by R. Duby, an American, in 1962—322.54 km/hr. Since 1967 world racing champions have been chosen according to the results of eight to ten races held in various countries (the 1969 champion was Don Aronow of the United States). A significant role in the development of motorboating was played by the Englishmen M. and D. Campbell.

Motorboating is widespread in East Germany, West Germany, Italy, France, Belgium, Sweden, Great Britain, the USA, and Japan. In Russia the first motorboat races were held in 1904 in St. Petersburg; in 1907 international cabin cruiser races were held. In 1925 a motorboating section of the Moscow automobile club was organized in the USSR. The first USSR championships for individuals were held in 1938, the first team championships in 1952. Since 1956 they have been held annually.

Major contributions to the development of motorboating in the Soviet Union have been made by lu. V. Emel’ianov, P. A. Leont’ev, V. M. Zhirov, G. B. Berzina, R. N. Shibaev, and others.

Soviet record holders, champions of the USSR, and inter-national prizewinners include O. Gavrilov, V. Slinkov, V. Isakov, lu. Lill, R. Upatnieks, the brothers I. and P. Bogdanov, V. Stepanchikov, and E. Stepanov. Motor-boating in the USSR is under the supervision of the Federation of Motorboating, a part of the Bureau of the All-Union Federations of Military and Technological Sports of the Voluntary Society for Assistance to the Army, Air Force, and Navy of the USSR. The Union of International Motorboating (UIM), created in 1922, organizes motorboating, sets up rules, holds competitions, and registers world records; the Federation of Motorboating of the USSR joined UIM in 1969.


Vodno-motornyi sport. Moscow, 1959.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


Undesired oscillation in an amplifying system or transducer, usually of a pulse type, occurring at a subaudio or low-audio frequency.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
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