Long distance powerboat racing returns with a bang

Thu, 26 Feb 2009 15:31 GMT

A new four race series of 'marathon' powerboat racing is to take place in 2009 run by three clubs, the British Powerboat Racing Club, the United Kingdom Offshore Boating Association, and the Royal Motor Yacht Club.

The first race starts at the end of May (29-31) running out of and being hosted by Poole Quay Boat Haven. This is the British Powerboat Racing Club’s re-invention of the famous old Poole-Cherbourg powerboat race but this time they are turning it into a major offshore challenge with the race going to Cherbourg, round the CH1 buoy, and racing back to Poole non-stop, a distance of some 140 nautical miles.

The original Poole-Cherbourg race was a timed trial, which is currently held by Mark Pascoe at 57 minutes so organisers will be incorporating this challenge within the race. Each boat will be timed rounding the turn mark at CH1 off of Cherbourg so that the first boat in each class can claim a 'best time' to Cherbourg. The finish line for all boats will be off Bournemouth Pier, back in Poole.

The second race in the series will be the equally famous and historic Needles-Camden Trophy being held on 15-16 August. This is a famous old race being brought back to life by the Royal Motor Yacht Club. The race will take place in and around Poole Bay with some legs powering off around the back end of the Isle of Wight and will be some 130 nautical miles long.

The third race is the famous and oldest of all, the 180 nautical mile Cowes-Torquay-Cowes non-stop race over 28-30 August. Organised and run once again by the British Powerboat Racing Association, this year it is intended that all boats will go straight across the notorious and never ending Lyme Bay, turning within the Bay in Torquay, back around the Ore Stone Rock and repeating the trip back to Cowes.

The Cowes Classic is for race boats that do not have the fuel range for the Cowes-Torquay-Cowes but who also wish to be part of this great weekend and to face a challenge of their own. This will include two laps of Poole Bay before returning to Cowes, a total distance of some 75 miles.

These two great races have been a proving ground for the last 50 years for both boat designers and builders and there is no reason for this not to continue, besides being the supreme test for all powerboat racers.

The last race of the series on 26-27 September is a new one. Hosted by the United Kingdom Offshore Boating Association (UKOBA) out of Poole it will be called the 'South Coast Marathon'. UKOBA intend this race to be one of the hardest of the series with the fleet racing from Bournemouth Pier to Anvil Point, then to the Shambles, back past St. Catherine’s Point on the south coast of the Isle of Wight, to the NAB tower and then home via the Needles, completing around 180 nautical miles.

The overall winner of the series could come from any of the classes taking part. The Royal Navy Club and Royal Albert Yacht Club have donated two superb silver cups dating back to offshore racing in the early 1930’s for the first and second winners overall.

Meanwhile, the 2009 Round Britain Race will be a serious test for every boat and crew taking part and is not to be entered into lightly. The organisers will continue with the lessons learnt from the 2008 Round Britain Race where every crew has to look after itself and must be suitably equipped to do so. At the point of no return competitors will be some 30 miles from land.

Great interest is being shown in the 'marathon' series of long distance races by many potential competitors from both here and abroad, including a surprising number from the P1 fleet which is very encouraging.

The 2009 'marathon' series will be a huge challenge for all those taking part and will test both craft and crew to the limit. Long distance powerboat racing is back and back with a vengeance.