BOWDOINHAM — Alex Poliakoff insists he is not driven by chasing a points championship.

Instead, he says, it’s the rush of competition that pushes him to race his powerboat across New England and beyond.

“I can’t help it,” he says with a laugh. “I’m driven by the competition. I enjoy going fast. I like to run up front and go as fast as I can. The points come as a result.”

Poliakoff, who manufactures racing engine packages through Japan-based Tohatsu Outboard Motors, is once again enjoying a strong season with his 11-foot, 6-inch hydroplane in the American Powerboat Association. Poliakoff, 68 of Bowdoinham, is fourth in points in the Stock Outboard D Hydro division. The association classifies its divisions through engine sizes, with D being the biggest.

He finished runnerup in points last season on the circuit, which holds races across the country.

Poliakoff says he tries to compete in at least 10 races a year.


“I’m still just trying to go faster,” he said. “Last year, I missed the high points by 125 points. It was pretty close. It motivates me.”

Poliakoff first began racing in 1963, when he purchased his first powerboat. He fell in love with the sport, but nearly gave it up when he joined the Air Force in 1965. He served in Vietnam and rose to the rank of chief master sergeant. Forty years after he enlisted, Poliakoff purchased a hydroplane boat for $300. Poliakoff fixed it up, purchased a racing engine and joined the APBA.

He’s been hooked since.

“I resumed in 2005 and fell in love with it all over again,” he said. “I did a lot of racing in 1963 and 1964, but then the Vietnam draft came along. I didn’t know if I would get back into it, but here I am.”

And he’s not slowing down.

Poliakoff travels as far as 600 miles to compete in APBA races, which typically feature one-mile courses that entail about three laps around a lake.


Poliakoff’s hydroplane, which weighs about 135 pounds, has a 50-horsepower motor that can push the boat to speeds exceeding 80 mph.

“You can get into the high 70s and low 80s,” he said. “In really good water, and if you are running out front, you can go 85, 86. The more races you do, the more points you can accumulate. There are about 14 races.”

Poliakoff has competed in six races so far, winning his last feature in Milton, N.H., in June.

He’ll travel to New York and Massachusetts in the next few months as well.

“I stay busy,” he said. “We have a lull between races, but I get out when I can.”

When he isn’t racing, Poliakoff is building boat motors inside his spacious garage, which sits on the Bowdoinham-Richmond line.


He orders the motor heads from Tohatsu — after gaining approval from the Environmental Protection Agency — and then attaches them to the tower unit he receives from Bass Machines of Washington state.

He needs EPA approval to import older Tohatsu motors because they don’t meet emission standards.

“I use a competition exclusive agreement with the EPA,” Poliakoff said. “That means I can only sell these engines to a racing member of a verified racing organization. It’s quite a process, but it’s fun.”

Not as much fun, Poliakoff adds, as racing on the water.

The APBA season runs through the end of October, giving him ample time to make up ground on the frontrunners in the class.

“I’ll see what I can do,” he said. “I just want to keep going.”

Bill Stewart — 621-5640


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