Sport: The Water Monsters

The world's fastest racing boats are the unlimited hydroplanes. As much airplane as boat, they are bellowing giants powered by World War II fighter-plane engines, ride on two hand-size patches of hull and the submerged half of a whirling propeller, skip along the water like a flat stone thrown from shore, tossing spray with the sting of buckshot. No one knows how fast the top boats will go because no one has ever had them wide open, and for good reason: at speeds around 180 m.p.h., the slightest swell can send them hurtling into...