Speed Demons Make for Thrilling Int’l Motorboat GP in Changwon

Blasting through Korea’s coastal waters on a streamlined motorboat vaguely resembling a Formula One racing car with an enclosed cockpit, Slovakian Thomas Samak clinched the KT-1 title at the recently ended Changwon International Motorboat Grand Prix.

Changwon successfully wrapped up its annual motorboat competition on Monday as the city in South Gyeongsang Province continues to draw more visitors to enjoy marine leisure sports with the aim of revitalizing its local economy.

K-450 boats tear away from the start line.

The two-day competition, which was co-hosted by the provincial branch of MBC and the Korea Power Boat Federation, got underway on Sunday and consisted of three parts: K-450, KT-1 and jet-skiing.

Yoo Keung-young of the Korea Sports Promotion Foundation’s Gyeongju branch triumphed in the K-450, which was restricted to Korean contestants, and Cho Young-hee of Team Sunspace ranked No. 1 in the jet ski event.

KT-1 is an internationally recognized competition where participants make 10 turns around a 1,100-m track on a 90 hp boat that can race up to 140 km/h. Over 100 athletes and representatives from seven countries — Korea, Spain, Slovakia, Estonia, Poland, Argentine and Portugal — joined this year’s event as the new KT-1 boat debuted in Asia, replacing the older OSY-400.

A jet ski crosses the finish line.

In the K-450 section, contestants on low-profile 450 cc boats with enclosed tops are required to make three laps of a 600-m track.

Just before the official competitions began, spectators got the chance to watch an exhibition race of souped-up KF-1s with 220 hp and a maximum speed of 250 km/h.

Changwon is ideal for marine sports as it boasts the nation’s third-longest coastline of 321.14 km as well as good anchoring facilities. The sea there is also considered relatively pristine and suitable due to its level sea-bed and lack of flotsam and jetsam.

Government officials and other guests participate in a tape-cutting ceremony for the 6th International Boat Show in Changwon on May 10. /Courtesy of Changwon City

In tandem with the Grand Prix, the city also hosted the 6th Korea International Boat Show from Thursday to Sunday last week. A total of 147 firms joined the show, 82 Korean companies and 65 foreign entrants from a total of 19 countries.

On the first day of the event, the province signed an MOU with Gyeonggi Province to cooperate in helping grow the marine leisure industry and assist in hosting their respective annual boat shows.

Boats are on display at the International Boat Show.

Visitors this year were also offered opportunities to ride a variety of yachts, large power boats, cruiser yachts and canoes. On the sidelines of the show, conferences and company presentations took place to draw investment and further boost the industry.

Meanwhile, the city will host the East Asian Seas Congress from July 7-13. Some 1,500 government officials and experts from international organizations or NGOs will discuss marine environmental issues such as rising ocean levels due to climate change and the erosion of coastlines.

englishnews@chosun.com/ May 17, 2012 11:37 KST

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