The sport, which involves racing small speedboats around lakes, has been around since, at least, the late 19th century. I’m not sure how popular it is, but it’s at least popular enough to have several YouTube videos devoted to the races, including this one.
The video comes from back in 2009, but it’s a great example of how tethered hydroplane racing works, and it’s cool to watch even if you aren’t interested in picking up a new, somewhat obscure British hobby.
In the video, a man named Norman Lara is seen launching a Naviga A3 tethered hydroplane. After what looks like a few complicated preparations, he releases the tiny boat and off it goes around the lake.
The boat races around the water, balancing just on top of it, and begins to reach speeds that make it seem like it’s about to take off and head into outer space. According to the video description, the boat reached a speed of 134 mph over its last 5 complete laps, which, at the time, was just shy of the British record of 135.57 mph also achieved by Lara himself.
That’s pretty fast, but Lara, apparently intent on outdoing himself, broke the record again in 2014 with a run of 141.07 mph. Impressive stuff. Enjoy the video and then file this away in the “fun fact” corner of your brain.