Neptune is a capricious god and he certainly made his presence felt at the first Falmouth to Scilly Powerboat marathon race. With winds gusting up to Force 8 off Land’s End and a small boat advisory warning issued by the Coastguard the International Powerboat Race Club (IPRC), who organised the race, took the decision to abandon their original course and rapidly crafted a safer route.
"Our determination has always been to make certain a race happened and we did everything we could to make that a reality" commented Eugene Bari from the IPRC. "This is just the first part of our plan to expand all forms of powerboat racing where we can so it was absolutely imperative that the race went ahead in some form," he continued.
A number of teams were forced to withdraw from entry because of the weather including Martini Vector, Cougar and All Black Racing who were unable to cross the Irish Sea to get to the start line. However the Pilot of Team Martini Vector and legendary racer Peter Dredge made it to the start line alongside another legend and world record holder, Keith Whittle, where they found themselves in extremely unusual roles on the start boat. Peter dropped the flag to start the race and Keith waved the chequered flag on the finish line.
The revised route turned east towards Plymouth and ran out past the Edison Lighthouse before turning back to Fowey and home again to Falmouth. The total route was 76 miles. With the massive changes forced on the officials by the weather, the teams also needed to be on their toes and capable of handling rough, chop, long swells and tricky navigational challenges. Belgian team pilot Jean Pierre of Biretta Due joked that they should have carried on along the channel and gone home when they hit the rough seas on the inbound leg.
Despite the weather all the teams finished the race with Silverline, driven by Drew Langdon and Miles Jennings in first place, Halcyon Connect piloted by James Sheppard and Myles Dobson second followed by Biretta Due and local team HTS Perkins piloted by Nick Wilkinson ably assisted by Glen Chidzoy in fourth.
Four boats may not sound a lot but the response from the public and race community has been entirely positive.
"All we can do is put the races on and rely on teams to make the effort to enter”, commented Bari after the race. "If they didn't make it this time we can only hope that they will change their minds for the next one. It's absolutely up to the teams to make this a success now. I hope that despite the massive obstacles that organising a race like this presents we have proved that it can still be done.
"We are not disappointed by the numbers, in fact we consider it a huge success. So many people have been burned over the past few years with races not going ahead so it is hugely encouraging that teams like Biretta Due are prepared to come all the way from Belgium to join us. We have always said that we will never make promises we cannot keep. I hope now that we proved that. We know that it is a long haul to build trust in UK organisers again and we are ready to keep pushing ourselves to get better and better. The messages of support are flooding in by the day and that makes it all worthwhile. All we need now is for people to back the other events like CTC and bring back the joy of racing."
"We are going to do this again and again and again until we have a fleet of 40 and tens of thousands of people watching us", added Paul Mitchell of the IPRC.
To find out more about the IPRC visit www.internationalpowerboatraceclub.com