They say not to make assumptions, but sometimes it’s okay to jump to conclusions. If you’re at a birthday party, there’s probably going to be cake and presents. If you leave food out overnight, it’ll attract bugs and critters. And, if you have a mode of transportation, you’re going to race it.
Such is the case with the longtail Thai riverboats.
As this video proves, these racers can go really fast. Much faster than you might expect from the bucolic scenes presented on more sedate travel videos. But, let’s dig a little deeper to get a full scope of what the experience is really like.
The boats are about the size of kayaks, and are generally constructed by hand out of wood. Seats are rare, with most pilots kneeling or perching on a small crate for balance. Now, these ideas don’t sound too outlandish, until you discover that the engines put in these boats may have as much as 500 horsepower, and can exceed speeds of 100 miles per hour. And, as Chad, host of this CB Media video, reminds us, “Boats don’t have brakes.”
The term “longtail” has to do with the engine set up. Look closely, and you’ll see that the prop shaft and prop from the engine are partially submerged. The pilots use key angles and their own body weight to counterbalance their boat to gain speed and navigate the perils of their watery race course. Another reminder: Water isn’t exactly soft and gentle when you’re hitting it at over 100 miles per hour.
Another assumption is that everyone who watches this is going to absolutely want to try this at home, but remember, there are a few parts of this equation that may not translate to your local water scene. First, these waterways include long stretches of straightaways that are perfect for drag racing. Second, these pilots have been doing this all their lives, and this is definitely the sort of thing that has a learning curve. So, while you might be tempted to pull the engine off your motorbike and strap it to your kayak…maybe do a little research first.
And don’t blame us for what happens.