Powerboat Racing

Let’s talk about safety and the older style OPC hulls on the circuit today

To say that the older hulls are just as safe as they were in the late 90s and early 2000s would be a bit risky even borderline misleading in our humble *opinion. That said, let’s dive into what we see as concerns given the recent injuries sustained after having a significant crash in an older style hull. This is a subject we have attempted to broach in the past, unfortunately, the topic of safety in the older hulls is always met with hostility and a complete unwillingness to discuss the topic without letting one’s emotions get in the way. Let’s hope this time around cooler heads will prevail and the topic is not immediately shot down.

MARYLAND HEIGHTS, Mo., August 17 (UPI) — Matt Sadl of Fenton, Mo., gives the ok to crew members as he starts his motor for the SST-120 race at the Bud Light St. Louis Grand Prix at Creve Coeur Lake in Maryland Heights, Mo. on August 17, 2002. Bill Greenblatt UPI

So right out the gate lets make one thing clear, we are not naming hulls or singling out any one particular hull and calling it unsafe. Nor do we proclaim to be experts in the safety field, we will leave that to folks like Bob Wartinger and others. This quick primer is meant to start a meaningful conversation not an argument on the issues and safety concerns of running an older hull under race conditions.

We have not done a specific study on the outcomes of an older hull and the new hulls when it comes to driver injuries but if you simply compare the extent of the driver’s injuries after similar events the drivers in the newer hulls always seem to fair much better injury wise vs the driver in the older hulls which leads us to the very point of this conversation. Are you more likely to be physically injured in an older style hull with an older capsule design vs a new style hull?

Will a capsule that was designed in early 2000 still provide the same level of protection as a capsule laid up in 2015 etc. Does a driver who is strapped into an early model capsule have a false sense of security and does the capsule ultimately still have the ability to perform as it did say 10–15 years ago.

We are fully aware that some will view our observation as an attack on drivers that are not financially able to upgrade to a newer hull. This could not be further from the truth as we are only attempting to start a conversation and perhaps start a dialog with safety committees regarding the issues pertaining to the older style hulls.

So now that we have thrown out a few thoughts lets hear what you have to say. Are you as a driver comfortable in an older hull, does the thought never cross your mind regarding the safety? Are you comfortable in the abilities of an older style capsule to save your life and limit the level of bodily harm?

Please chime in with your comments and let’s get the conversation started. *Keyword here is a conversation, not an argument.

Photo credit: Constance York

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