Cowes Torquay - An Absolute Classic
The Cowes Torquay Powerboat Race is the toughest powerboat race in the world. The stretch of water between the Solent and Devon Coast has long been regarded as one mean piece of water.
It’s reputation however for punishing boats and crew, and crushing even the most prepared teams has been somewhat subdued for the last two years as the south west coast of Britain has turned on spectacular weather with much calmer seas and gentler breezes than the racers are used to.
The question on everyone’s lips was; ‘Who would have thought this was possible?’
South West England provided yet another stonking day, a day suited for fast racing and spectacular viewing. After the recent bad weather the sunshine and clear skies were a welcome relief. We received reports from Torquay that the sea was as flat as a billiard table, and fast times would be possible. Back at Cowes the situation was similar with a light breeze and little wave activity.
Tim Powell, a 29 year veteran organiser of the race fired the canons from the Royal Yacht Squadron at Cowes at 09:00 sharp this morning, setting the fleet on its way as they raced once more from their historical starting point.
Being close to shore the race start was everything that could be hoped for. The air filled with the sound of well-tuned, high powered engines. The fans turned out in force to experience the full spectacle of sight, sound and smell as the fleet powered away down the Solent.
Peter Dredge and Simon Powell got out to a handy lead in ‘Vector Martini’ and led all the way to Torquay. They were chased hard out of the Solent by ‘Smokin Aces’ driven by Chris and Nicholas Dodge and ‘Silverline' driven by Drew and Ali Langdon, with the rest of the pack chasing hard.
The Ribs ‘Hot Lemon V’ (D50) and ‘Birretta Due’ (B41) chased the leaders fiercely, getting very close as the boats rounded Portland. They in turn were pursued by Team Barwood (C7).
It was great to see Preben Sorensen from Norway racing in his Predator 337 SuperSport. Competing for the first time in the Cowes Torquay he ran well on the unfamiliar course finishing eleventh in the first leg.
Both ‘Cube 52’ and ‘Flyin Falcon’ withdrew during the first leg and returned to Cowes.
After winning the race to Torquay Peter Dredge commented, “We had a wonderful run. It’s really great to be in Torquay. The Vector Martini Boat is going fantastically well and we have had no problems. We’re looking forward to turning around for the run back to Cowes. We’ll be going downwind and we might even go flat out on the way back.”
On the second leg of the race back to Cowes after a clean start in brilliant Torquay sunshine ‘Vector Martini’ kept their word and led by one and a quarter nautical miles after clearing the Ore Stone turning buoy at Torbay. By Swanage the lead had grown to 4.62 nautical miles and they were to extend this even further by the end of the race. They were clocked racing into the Solent at 83 knots so it was no wonder ‘Vector Martini’ crossed the finish line at Cowes to a salvo from the canons at the Royal Yacht Squadron and a cheering crowd.
‘Smokin' Aces’ took second place on the return journey with ‘Team Barwood,’ who were competing in their first Cowes Torquay Race, taking a well-deserved third place.
With the tail wind adding to the fast conditions and full on racing on the return journey it was not surprising that two teams made navigational errors on their way back to Cowes. Both Black Ball Racing and Predator 337 SuperSport incurred a one hour time penalty for missing buoys.
After the race Preben Sorensen from Norway commented that it was great race but a bit rougher than they expected. They really enjoyed the hospitality but would need to come back with a bigger boat for next years race.
When congratulated on his double win by Dorian Griffith the Race Director, Peter Dredge of ‘Vector Martini’ said they had enjoyed the race very much and were delighted with the performance of their boat.
And so concludes another fantastic event on a magnificent summer’s day. The crowds came out in their thousands to make the most of the spectacle, lining the vantage points and headlands along the way and visiting the pits at both ends of the race to see the colourful noisy beasts up close. The drivers were once again amazed at the number of spectator boats that made the effort to come out to watch the racing, toot their horns and cheer as the boats went past.
Everyone would have to agree it was magnificent to see the boats racing once more from their historical starting point in the Solent and we look forward to another exciting event from the same place next year.
Provisional Results Leg One
1st - Vector Martini
2nd - Smokin Aces
3rd - Silverline
4th - Hot lemon
5th - Biretta Due
6th - Team Barwood
7th - Black Ball racing
8th - Dry Martini
9th - Fugitive
10th - Grey Ghost
11th - Predator 337 Supersport
12th - HTS Perkins
DNF - Cube 52
DNF - Flyin Falcon
Provisional Results Leg Two
1st - Vector Martini
2nd - Smokin Aces
3rd - Team Barwood
4th - Biretta Due
5th - Hot Lemon V
6th - Dry Martini
7th - Grey Ghost
8th - Fugitive
9th - Silverline
10th - HTS Perkins
11th - Black Ball Racing
12th - Predator 337 Supersport