Powerboat race draws international crowd to St. Petersburg

The second-annual P1 St. Pete Powerboat Grand Prix wrapped up Sunday afternoon, and brought 60 race teams to the Bay Area from around the world, including Australia, Sweden, Norway, Canada, New Zealand, and Italy.

The powerboats range from about 30 feet to 50 feet long, and race across the water at speeds up to 160 miles per hour.

"The guys are in an enclosed capsule inside the boat, they have air so in case the boat goes over, they’re sealed in and strapped into the boat. The boat is built with carbon fiber, which makes it very, very light but very strong," stated Gary Stray, the technical director for the Huski Racing Team.

Stray says getting the boats on the water can be just as much of an art form as racing them.

"Everybody asks, how do you get that in the water? So, we have two huge cranes in downtown St. Petersburg that we roll underneath before qualifying or the race, and they pick us up and put us in the water, it’s another thing that people love to watch," he stated.

The second-annual P1 St. Pete Powerboat Grand Prix wrapped up Sunday afternoon.

Powerboat races are similar to Formula One racing because drivers are trying to get around a track as quickly as possible. But, these racers are dealing with elements that are different from what you’d experience behind the wheel of a racecar.

"The thing that’s very unique about offshore powerboat racing is that every lap around that course is different because the surface is changing," Stray said. "So if you were to be driving a formula one car and do a lap, and the next time put three or four different lumps and bumps in the track, then that is what it’s like."

Stray has raced in 27 different countries and says St. Pete is one of his favorite places.