McCallan bridging the gender gap
Blazing a trail for women in offshore power boat racing in the United States is a challenge that Kim McCallan simply could not ignore.
The mother of one jumped at an offer to help bridge the gender gap in the male-dominated sport competing as an alternate driver and full-time crew with American syndicate, Nobody’s Business Offshore Racing, on both the American Power Boat Association (APBA) and Power Boat Offshore (P1) series.
“They wanted a female on the team to encourage females into the sport,” McCallan said.
“Women are into racing all through the US but nothing in the offshore category. They will do like circuits, which is the tunnel boat.
“It’s all positive talking to some of the guys that are in the other classes and they think it’s a great thing [having a woman involved]. I’m friends with a lot of them and it’s nothing but encouragement.
“It’s a challenge I accepted but there are times I sit back and think, ‘What have I gotten myself into’.”
The former Bermuda Power Boat Association commodore has integrated well with her new team-mates Chris Uzzi, the team’s owner and regular driver, and Mark Rinda, the team’s throttle man.
“They are a good bunch of people to work with and I learn something from them every single day,” she said.
“Chris is a great driver and I’m sure it’s going to be tough to fill his shoes. Mark is the throttle guy who is very positive and encouraging.”
McCallan is not the only the only female involved at this level of racing.
“There’s a father and daughter team that race in the boat ‘Killer Bees’,” she said. “Power Boat Offshore is introducing new boats this year and there’s a brother-sister team that will be competing.”
McCallan is the first Bermudian woman to attain American Power Boat Association qualifications and come July will also become the first local woman to compete at that level.
“I have driven a boat here but to do that overseas is taking it to the next level. All I have done before overseas is be in charge of a race,” she said.
“On the US scene, I am actually a driver, a referee, a scorer and inspector as well. Those I had to take exams for, which I have done, and passed with flying colours and that’s a first.
“With my credentials I am with the American Power Boat Association and that’s the governing body in the US who work alongside Union Internationale Motonautique, which is the European governing body.
“Allowing me to drive, I also became a member of the Offshore Power Boat Association (OPA), which is running quite a few of the races in the US.”
McCallan, one of only two women to serve as BPBA commodore, cannot wait to finally make her race debut behind the wheel of her team’s 30-foot Phantom at the St Clair River Classic to be held in St Clair, Michigan, from July 26 to 28
“The great thing is they have a live link so whatever race is going on you can actually view it from anywhere,” she said.
McCallan is also scheduled to race at the Great Lakes Grand Prix to be held from August 2 to 4 in Michigan City, Indiana.
As for her team’s boat, which is powered by a 500 horsepower inboard motor, she added: “It’s a beautiful boat and has good speed. You’re doing turns between 80 and 87mph, so a lot different than being in an open boat. It’s a 30 -foot Phantom and there’s about ten boats in our class.
“They are similar to the Phantom we have here. It’s a stepped hull just like the newer A class boat. It’s just the difference in size and the look of the boat itself.”