The accident, in which the boat crashed into an artificial dam, happened near the finish line at the Lido di Venezia on Tuesday night.
Fabio Buzzi, a 76-year-old Italian businessman and power boat world champion, was among the dead. He was leading the team’s attempt to set a record time in the adrenaline-fueled trip from Monaco to Venice.
Buzzi was attempting to break his Monte Carlo to Lido di Venezia record. On Tuesday, he and his crew left Monte Carlo at 3 a.m. local time and were expected to arrive in the Lido at 9 p.m. Buzzi had traveled the same route in the past but had always arrived in daylight hours.
The vessel was nearly at the finishing line when it hit the Punta Sabbioni spit, built to protect the city’s “Mose” flood barrier, the AFP news agency reported.
The Mose system was designed to protect the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Venice, which is slowly sinking.
Emergency workers, including the fire brigade and coastguard, were at the scene for the rescue operation.
According to the spokesman, Invernizzi survived because he was “thrust out of the boat by the impact.”
“We are heartbroken. Accidents like this have a very strong impact on all of us,” said Gianni Darai, spokesman of Venice Assonautica, the nautical association that organized the event.
The vessel measured 39 feet long and had a Fiat engine. It was probably traveling at 79 knots per hour — just short of its 80 knots per hour maximum — Darai told CNN.
The distance between Monte Carlo and Lido di Venezia by water is about 1,380 miles, la Repubblica newspaper reports.
Buzzi was attempting to break his 2016 record of 22 hours and five minutes. According to Darai, the team had succeeded in its efforts, making the journey in less than 19 hours.
Darai described speed boat racing as a “dangerous sport” and told CNN that others have died in this way around the world.
The cause of the crash remains unclear.