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October 28th, 2008 By Glen Laundy
BRINGING BACK THE FLATTY
Aah, there ain't nothin' like the old school.
American influence on the rest of the world is often the topic of news headlines for all the wrong reasons. In the world of extreme horsepower and fast racing though, it's usually all good. This instance is no exception either - American flat bottom or 'K-Boat' racing has been around a long time and in some cases found its way into Australian racing waters. Nowedays, sadly, flat bottomed boats are few and far between.
Ideally used in calm water, the flat bottom principle is good in theory. Nice and flat and streamlined, just like the water. This means despite the extra surface area on the water, the boat doesn't have to cut through the water meaning overall less friction. Frighteningly fast in a straight line, making an excellent boat off the starting line, and an excellent drag boat. These boats are however, not too good in tight corners.
"Flatties" need to be in a sense slid around the corner due to their inability to bank in a turn. Not only must the driver judge where he/she is going to slide, any 'holes' in the water created from other boat washes must be avoided at all costs. Water is very unforgiving, and if a flat surface is applied to a curved surface, basic physics principles will result in an overturned boat. Obviously these handling characteristics are somewhat undesireable amongst circuit racers.
But what about 'The Fonz" effect? That's right- what about the cool factor. Everyone likes to be different, and there isn't anything else like a fully blown smallblock sending a flat bottomed boat screaming past the crowd. You may not win races with this sort of setup, but you'll definitely please the crowd and undoubtedly please yourself if you own this kind of toy.
ASBC faithful Paul Palazzo has obvioulsy been thinking along these sort of lines for a while now, having recently purchased 'Special Edition' - a 17ft 6" Stephens flatt bottom owned by Victorian Mick Cruzik. Although the boat is still a while from completion, be assured that the spirit of the flat bottom is alive and well, and will be seen on the water at Adelaide sometime in the future.