When we think about Thailand, we often envision magnificent temples or their delicious cuisine. However, there’s more to the country than meets the eye. If you’re a thrill-seeker, Thailand’s Longtail Boat racing will surely have your blood pumping.
Thailand’s Tail Boats are small wooden boats, no bigger than a kayak or a surfboard. They have no seats or steering wheels, but a large engine attached to the back. To steer the boat, pilots must either crouch or sit flat on their stomachs. Although risky, this technique helps even out the boat’s weight and propel it forward.
Because of their small weight, even with a rider, these boats can reach speeds of 100mph. With boats as fast as these, safety measures aren’t exactly commonplace. Rather than wear safety gear— like a wetsuit, a life vest, or a helmet—most riders often wear a ballcap, a t-shirt, and denim jeans. Fascinating as is, it should be noted that the sport’s lack of safety measures means if one falls headfirst into the water at 100Mph+ speed, the chances of coming back alive are slim.
Safety aside, Longtail Boat drag racing appears to be a beloved sport by locals. Many riders travel across the country to compete, while fans and enthusiasts host competitions in almost every other town.
When it comes to prizes, many competitors aren’t so much motivated by a money prize (which mostly just cover travel costs) as much as the honor and glory of being the best of the best.
A risky sport indeed, Thailand’s take on boat racing is undeniably thrilling and creative— definitely a stand-out among its many fascinating things.