Similar to the infamous 24 Hours of Rouen endurance race in Rouen, France, boats run non-stop for 24 hours. Teams must swap drivers after a maximum of two hours.
Unlike Rouen, the White Nights race features a vee-bottom rigid hull inflatable (RIB) design, with a fiberglass or composite center section, surrounded by an inflatable tube as the shear line of the boat. The name, “White Nights,” comes from the fact that St. Petersburg only gets dark (or semi-dark) for approximately 3-1/2 hours during the mid-summer season.
The racecourse runs around Zayatchiy Island in downtown St. Petersburg. This island was where Peter the Great established St. Petersburg in 1703. Kronverkskiy Channel, a moat built by Peter the Great to protect the island city, was approximately one-half of the racecourse. The balance of the course on the other side of the island is the Neva River. Racers encountered a full gamut of water conditions – from very rough to smooth as glass.
Five classes race together, varying by boat length, weight, and engine displacement. Classes range from Class 1, with a minimum of 12-feet and a maximum 770 cc displacement, to Class 5 at 17-1/2 foot minimum boat length and up to 3.1 liter displacement. Mercury and Yamaha outboards are the two major engine brands used.
“Team PTK-Mercury's” ZAO Service Boat was new boat built locally in St. Petersburg. The ZAO design was challenged by Great Britain 's “Osprey” brand, the “Autonautique” brand from Belgium, and four other European boat brands.
The Russian team “Roslit-81 SK” completed 522 laps in their Mercury 60 EFI outboard powered hull to win Class 1 competition. Team “Favorite” placed second. A Yamaha powered team “Dyadya Kolya” completed 486 laps to win the Class 2 event. Team “RT” placed second. Team “Jam” won the Class 3 competition in their 90 hp Yamaha powered hull. “Elko,” “Akuly (Sharks),” “Garant,” and “Mirage” rounded out 2-5. Team “Ochotnik-1” won Class 4 competition in their Mercury XR2 outboard-powered craft. “Ataman,” and “Petrovich” rounded out 2-3.
Seven Television stations (both local and national) covered the race. A two-hour delayed broadcast was shown throughout Russia four days after the race.
For more information on White Nights 24-Hour Race: www.race24hours.ru