Setting Up an Entry-Level Racing Class
By Jay Turner
Running a fast electric boat can be a lot of fun, but after a while it
loses some of its appeal if you are running alone. What is needed then is some
competition, some informal racing with other boaters to keep up the interest. This is one
reason why boaters join clubs, so that they can run with others. The problem with this is
that if the new member has a kit boat which is not competitive when racing against the
club racers high-tech race boats, he will not be too happy always losing with almost
no hope of a win. How can this situation be remedied so that the new boater stays
interested and can progress to faster boats?
The Anchorage Model Boat Club recognized this problem five years ago,
and we chose the Crackerbox as our entry-level class. By staying with the rules for this
class adopted by the three FE boating organizations, all boats were very similar in
performance. To insure enough boats to make a class, several "old" club members
ran them too. While the class was reasonably successful, it proved frustrating to new
boaters because the CBoxes are prone to flip over in competition. Frankly, it proved
frustrating to experienced boaters too.
We finally chose the TurboVee kit boat as our "spec"
entry-level class. We specified that the boat must use a six cell pack, can use either the
stock motor and prop or the Trinity Sapphire 17-turn motor and the Octura 1435 prop. With
the latter setup the Turbos were quite fast, inexpensive, and performance is virtually
identical. When this model was discontinued we chose the Kyosho Viper as the new
"spec" hull, allowing the same Sapphire motor and an Octura x431 prop. With
these inexpensive, simple and reliable models the club gained quite a few new members, and
racing was much closer and more interesting. These models can still flip over ( not as
readily as the Crackerboxes did ), but they offer rougher water ability, more speed and
Faster speeds can be attained with more cells and hotter motors, but
run time decreases, maintenance is more involved, and past a certain speed the boat will
become unstable anyway. If fun racing is the goal, these boats on 6 cells and the mild mod
motor provide exciting racing at speeds beginners can handle on a crowded racecourse.
Weve found them to be excellent entry-level boats.
[ A few tips to increase the performance and reliability of these boats
may prove helpful. Replace the motor brushes with hard serrated brushes and heavy springs,
and advance the timing by 1/8th to 3/16th inches. Keep the motor
bearings and prop shaft lubricated for longer wear and better performance. Also, the
mechanical speed controllers which come with these boats are okay for awhile, but they
will wear out, and perhaps overheat with the improved motor. An ESC will work much better,
but be sure to waterproof both it and the receiver. ]
You dont need to have a formal club to race other boaters. Get
together a few friends with boats and lay out a course with two buoys about 100 feet
apart. Race clockwise around this simple course, and the first one to complete five or six
laps is the winner. This simple setup will familiarize you with competition, and you may
decide to join an existing club ( or to form your own ) .