Racing on Water
Imagine traveling 125 miles per hour on a lake. Dylan Runne ’16 knows what it’s like. He won the national championship for the Formula 2500 class in hydroplane racing on the St. Lawrence River, in Beauharnois, Quebec, over Labor Day weekend. This win marks the second of his back-to-back professional championships in the formula 2500 class, and it is his eighth national championship over a 16-year hydroplane racing career.
A third-generation power-boat competitor, he began racing at age nine. His grandfather started racing in the 40’s, and his father is a 10-time national champ. “It’s in my blood,” Runne says.
What is it like to race a hydroplane at 100-plus miles per hour over the water? “Controlled chaos,” says Runne. “It’s a combination of flying an airplane and driving an Indy Car on the water. Your right foot controls the gas pedal and the left controls the wing to move the boat up and down and change the front altitude; the goal is to keep the boat out of the water as much as possible to eliminate drag, but go too far, and you could end up flying through the air.
Yes, it’s dangerous. Racers wear helmets and are strapped into an F-16 airplane cockpit with a head restraint. Boats are equipped with oxygen masks in case they overturn.
Thrilling, adrenaline-pumping, heart-racing, right?
“Before a race, I sit alone and think about the race, play out different scenarios and how I would handle them,” Runne says. “When I close the cockpit, it’s all reaction; I stop thinking.
This is something I picked up from playing baseball at Moravian. We practiced situations every day so that when one of them happened in a game, we didn’t have to think, just react.”
Clearly a winning strategy.
Runne will continue to race the Formula 2500 for the 2019 season but has also been hired to drive an H-350 hydroplane for another team in 2019. The H-350 is double the size of the boat he is currently driving. Speeds in this class can get up to 150 miles per hour.
Runne is setting out to make it three championships in a row in 2019—something that has never been done in the Hydroplane Racing League. And beyond that, Runne’s goal is to make it to the top of the sport—Unlimited Hydroplane Racing. These boats reach speeds of more than 200 miles per hour and are powered by turbine helicopter engines. “I see myself trying to progress in the sport for the next five years or so; after that who knows?” says Runne. “I always told myself, if I decide to start a business of my own, I would stop racing and give my full attention to my work, but that is a few years out, so for now, I am going to try to go as fast as possible on the water.”
As for his 9 to 5, Runne, who earned a degree in business management at Moravian, works for Accenture Interactive as an e-commerce consultant. Based out of New York City, he works with major retailers and fortune 500 companies to implement e-commerce systems to drive business-to-business and business-to-consumer sales.