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If Populism be the mood of the moment, few activities in sport can claim to be more √† la mode than powerboating. Any number can play. At present 6.8 million Americans do. For some the lure is simply a chance to be out on the water, for others it is the girl friend on the polyethylene ski line, for others yet, a means to piscatorial ends. There is still another faction that goes down to the sea in outboards and inboards solely to race. In bewildering variety—ocean racers and river rats, dragsters and long-distance runners, heavyweights and bantams—they part the waters and palpitate the ears. And in ever-increasing numbers: there were 588 American Power Boat Association regattas last year. The sampler on the following pages salutes the breed, both at glistening rest and bows-up, spray-kicking speed.

Panache that passeth understanding goes into drag boats like Bob Cagle's 100-mph "Grim Reaper," a gas eliminator type. This is Populist chic at its California capital, Long Beach.

It is aces back to back when Larry Schwabenland sits his record-holding, 155-mph 'Joker's Wild' (in the argot of the trade a blown fuel flat-bottom), and green for go as another racer kicks off for a quarter-mile run. Below, two dragsters roar bow to bow to the finish.

In the staging area a flotilla of boats keeps order without benefit of docks or attendants as drivers grasp lines from a central maypole. The burnished exhaust stacks at right give some idea of the sport's spit and polish, placing it even with its dry land counterpart.

The Eiffel Tower looms above competitors in the Six Hours of Paris, who start just downstream from the Pont d'léna (right), flash beneath other bridges and round the lie des Cygnes before returning to the buoy (above) at the up-Seine end of the 4,700-meter course.

Heavyweight champion in the power structure is "Miss Budweiser," a Rolls-engined unlimited hydro here rooster-tailing it on Seattle's Lake Washington.