Since 1970, England has hosted an annual powerboat speed week as a finale to the race season, and this year two entries from the United States will be making history, vying for the record books, and thrilling race fans thanks to global boat transport leader Peters & May.
Coniston Records Week (November 5-9) is the only event in powerboat racing to bring together all classes in the sport; from the smallest hydros, through inshore circuit racers to the largest offshore boats. And this year, speed freaks from around the world will be treated to the first appearance ever of an Unlimited Hydroplane plying English waters.
The Unlimited Racing Group’s 'U-11 Peters & May' will make history as the first-ever Unlimited Hydroplane entry at Coniston, and will set a UK National Speed Record for the class piloted by co-owner JW Myers. URG’s Aaron Salmon, at 20 years of age, will be helming the R102 trying to break the O350 world record of 113.25 mph (182.5 km/h) set in 1995 by American Sean Livingston. Both drivers will be competing while coming off the injury list. Myers damaged his shoulder during the Detroit Gold Cup in July, which sidelined him for the remainder of the season. Salmon broke his back in a crash last October while trying to set a D Hydro Kilo record.
As a leading purveyor of boat shipping and event logistics, Peters & May has worked with a number of international sanctioning bodies and race teams. The company has taken on the challenge of growing interest in powerboat racing among fans and competitors alike, especially at the grassroots level.
'We have a number of goals besides the records,' said Peters & May CEO David Holley. 'We want to remind the world of the strong presence and history of powerboat racing in the UK. We’d like the whole of Europe to get more familiar with the H1 Unlimited Hydroplane series, and we are always looking to strengthen the bond between two powerboating strongholds like the UK and the USA.'
To that end, the 'U-11 Peters & May' was rebranded for the 2012 race season to reflect both the company’s and the team’s roots in both countries. The boat incorporates a red, white and blue graphics package with the team number on the rear wing depicting the 'U' as the Union Jack and the '11' as the Stars and Stripes. Both nations’ flags adorn the hull on the port and starboard sides.
The boat will also carry graphics memorializing P1Superstock UK series pilot Mike Lovell, who died in a racing accident September 16th in Weymouth, England. Lovell’s co-pilot, Dan Whapples, who suffered serious injuries in the accident, will also be honored.
The U-11 and R102 are scheduled to ship from Tacoma, Washington at the end of September, arriving in Southampton, England in late October. The boats will be trucked approximately five hours to Coniston and encounter winding country lanes not designed for something quite the size of a hydroplane. 'Our team is already working on the ground leg of the transport,' Holley said, 'And whilst there are a few challenges along the way, it’s what we are in business to do, isn’t it?'
Coniston Water is the third largest lake in England’s historic Lake District National Park, in the Northwest part of the country. It became host to Records Week in 2005 after speed limits were imposed on the UK’s largest lake, Windermere Water. Coniston is five miles/eight kilometers long and a half-mile/800 meters wide.
It is best known, unfortunately, for the death of world speed record holder Donald Campbell, who crashed his Bluebird K7 at 320 mph (525 km/h) on the return leg of a record-breaking attempt in 1967. The wreckage of the Bluebird was recovered in 2001 and Campbell’s remains were recovered later that same year. Peters and May website