- The conditions in 2016 had been so difficult that only two of the fleet had managed to finish the race …
- Acclaimed by many as the most prestigious offshore powerboat race in the world … it was set to test the 10 teams that had entered to their limits.
Nikki Drummond, Sponsorship and PR Manager for the Jelf Racing Powerboat Team, relives the key moments of the 2017 Cowes–Torquay–Cowes powerboat race …
The August Bank Holiday weekend saw Cowes Yacht Haven a bustling hive of activity as some of the world’s top powerboat racers eagerly awaited the start of the 57th Cowes–Torquay–Cowes powerboat race. Acclaimed by many as the most prestigious offshore powerboat race in the world, spanning a gruelling 190 nautical miles, it was set to test the 10 teams that had entered to their limits.
The conditions in 2016 had been so difficult that only two of the fleet had managed to finish the race, but with a better forecast over the busy 2017 bank holiday, the teams were raring to get going. They would battle firstly for victory rights on the outward leg to Torquay, and then again on the return sprint to Cowes, before an overall winner was declared by taking an average of the two race times.
Leg 1: Cowes–Torquay
The teams locked horns from the off, all battling fiercely to take the first chequered flag of the event, but it was last year’s overall race winners, A69 Cougar, driven by Richard Carr with Steve Curtis OBE, Mark Pascoe and James Sinclair on board, who powered ahead of the fleet and stormed to victory in Torquay in 1 hour and 8 minutes exactly, at an average speed of 97.68mph.
A55 Hendricks 55, with Markus Hendricks, Gareth Williams, Neil Jackson and Ole Finholt on board, were the second boat home in 1 hour 17 minutes and 33 seconds, 16 seconds ahead of B74 Halcyon Connect, driven by Miles Dobson and James Sheppard.
The first of the Marathon Class C boats into Torquay was C100 Blastoff, the only other boat to finish the 2016 race, driven by Dorian Griffith, with the only female competitor of the race, Shelley Jory-Leigh, in the navigator’s seat and Will Stevens on board for technical support, finishing in 1 hour 27 minutes and 15 seconds.
Belgian team Birretta Due were the first team to suffer technical problems and were forced to retire from the first leg of the race and would therefore fail to make the return race from Torquay. This was just the first of several problems for the fleet, and with A47 Silverline snapping a steering belt on an engine on the run to Torquay, the team of Drew Langdon and Miles Jennings had their work cut out to make the start of the return leg to Cowes. Fortunately, however, the team made the necessary repairs and headed out to the muster area for the start of the second leg.
Leg 2: Torquay–Cowes
The nine teams lined up behind the start boat for the return leg to Cowes, and as the flags dropped, the boats powered off towards the Solent finish line. It was soon clear that the hard work of the Silverline team had paid off as Drew Langdon and Miles Jennings raced ahead and led the way from start to finish in their Outerlimits hull to win with a race time of 1 hour 8 minutes and 59 seconds at an average speed of 93.69mph.
Meanwhile the reigning champions, the A69 Cougar team, broke a power steering belt on the race back to Cowes and were forced to retire, along with Hendricks 55, who were also unable to overcome mechanical problems.
Powering back to Cowes in second place behind Silverline were teammates Miles Dobson and former world champion James Sheppard in Halcyon Connect. Having taken third in the first leg, returning home in second was enough for the Halcyon Connect team to claim top honours in their Ilmor-powered hull and be awarded the Beaverbrook Trophy, presented to the overall winners of the prestigious Cowes–Torquay–Cowes race, with an elapsed time of 2 hours 35 minutes and 58 seconds.
Sunus Ocean Racing’s Tom Montgomery-Swan and Michal Galczewski, who were putting their boat through its paces ahead of their Round Britain record attempt in aid of Still Birth Awareness, finished third in the return leg to secure them second place overall – and they were the first outboard-powered hull to the finishing line. Sunus Ocean Racing stormed home in an overall time of 2 hours 52 minutes and 15 seconds, at an average speed of 76.09mph.
In third overall was the first international team from Ireland, Hibernia, driven by John Ryan and crewed by Phillip Fitzgibbon, Denis Dillon and Glenn Chidzoy, who took fifth place into Torquay followed by a strong fourth place finish in Cowes, with an overall race time of 2 hours 54 minutes and 32 seconds.
Meanwhile six teams took on the might of the Solent to compete for top honours in the Cowes–Torquay ‘Little Sister’ race. Spanning 48.5 nautical miles, the smaller boats would head from Cowes to Poole and back with no stopover in search of a championship win. With five of the six entries competing in the Club Unlimited Class, the action was set be intense. Thirty-five minutes separated the first boat back from the final boat to make it home, and leading the way was U-41 Tec-Care driven by brothers Adam and Scott Younger, who won the 2017 Cowes–Poole–Cowes race, with an average speed of 73.12mph and a race time of 45 minutes and 48 seconds.
The second boat home was U-4 T/T Gee, driven by Ali Langdon and Lucci Levi, finishing just under 2 minutes behind them with an average speed of 70.33mph.
Following home in third place was U-69 Vintage Torque, driven by Frank Rose and Vahid Ganjavian, who completed the race in 57 minutes and 15 seconds, including a 15-minute time penalty for a navigational error. In the end, navigational errors saw the final four boats home given 15-minute time penalties for incorrectly rounding Hengistbury Head buoy.
Trophies were awarded to the winners of both races as competitors attended a glittering gala ceremony at Cowes Yacht Haven hosted by the British Powerboat Racing Club, with the awards being presented by competitor and radio presenter Shelley Jory-Leigh.
The Return of Powers
Richie Powers received the prestigious Bahamas Trophy during a special ceremony held at this year’s Cowes–Torquay–Cowes (CTC) offshore powerboat race. The award was hailed as something of a lifetime achievement honour that recognised Powers’ winning of the CTC race in 1972, 1974 and 1980. Powers in fact still holds the record for the longest non-stop race, at 240 nautical miles, with the highest average speed recorded at 79.64mph.
After 30 years in the sport of offshore racing, Powers has achieved numerous noteworthy accomplishments. As a paid professional, he is to this day the highest-paid throttleman in the sport, has raced in almost every country in the world and has won several historic races. He has over 60 career victories on the Super and UIM Open Class circuits with an average length per race of 200 miles, equating to 12,000 racing mile wins. He holds four UIM consecutive Open Class world titles, three USA World Superboat titles and 11 national and international championships. He once set two World Offshore speed records in one year. Powers helped develop many of the high-performance accessories that are found on boats today, and has raced with various movie stars and celebrities, including Don Johnson, Kurt Russell, Chuck Norris, Steve McQueen, Jacky Ickx, Mario Andretti, Roger Penske and Don Aronow.