by John Moore
Every year, usually at August Bank Holiday weekend, a bustling, colorful spectacle of powerboats departs Cowes on the Isle of Wight bound for Torquay in the annual Cowes Classic Powerboat Race.
Fury, Cinzano, Argentum and Silverline - Cowes Classic 2012
This year however some things have changed. The 2013 edition is substantially different from previous events in two major ways. Firstly the race is being held a week later than the usual Bank Holiday Weekend, so will now take place over the weekend of the 31st of August and first of September. The second, and perhaps more major change is the race being run in two parts; the boats now race to a finish line off Haldon Pier in Torquay Harbour, where they will assemble and restart for the second leg of the race back to Cowes. The combined results will be merged to decide the overall winner of the prestigious race.
This year the race has an even larger prize at stake with competitors vying for the 2013 UIM Marathon World Cup and World Championship title.
In the past boats have had to leave Cowes carrying enough fuel to race around the Torquay mark and make it back to the finish line in the Solent; the return journey therefore faster because the boats are carrying less fuel. With the race broken into two stages the boats have the opportunity to refuel in near Torquay but not in Torquay, thus allowing the boats to run with less weight onboard as they only need enough fuel to complete the first part of the race. With less fuel the boats are lighter and therefore potentially faster. The boats can then refuel and start the second leg with a fresh tank of gas, again only enough to complete the race to the finish line.
The competitors are excited about the changes and looking forward to some fast, close competitive racing.
'The stopover in Torquay gives the public a chance to see the race boats and will only serve to help promote our sponsors - we may even get a chance to sort any problems out and charge up the on board cameras.' John Cooke from Banana Shark Racing
'Boss powerboats are excited to be taking part in this prestigious race. The last month has been spent getting the boat ready and we think we are in good order and looking forward to the challenges this epic race brings. We have some experienced competition and will have to use all our skills if we are to beat them,' Robin Hyde from Boss Powerboats.
This will be the first year that competitors have raced under these conditions, and while a break from tradition, it is an exciting development for anyone who loves to follow motorsport. It is rare that the public get the opportunity to see these powerful boats racing close to shore and the changes to the schedule will provide an enhanced spectator experience.
If you are a motorsport enthusiast, then this is the event for you. As well as the traditional viewing points for the start at Hurst Castle or on the Isle of Wight, the hills around Torquay Harbour will provide spectacular viewpoints from which to watch the boats as they approach Torquay, and again as they restart and race back to Cowes. Combined with the possibility of wonderful weather it will be a fantastic opportunity to come along and get close to these amazingly powerful beasts as they congregate in Torquay harbor. Grab a beer or an ice cream and find yourself a spot to absorb the spectacle this weekend.
One thing's for certain, a new World Champion will be crowned, and with the changes to the racing schedule we may even see some speed records broken.
After last weekend's dousing there is some good news in the long range weather forecast with Predictwind.com forecasting light winds and a sunny warm day for the race, ideal conditions for a fast race and record times.
The public are able to view the boats in the wet pit area in front of the Royal Yacht Squadron until they depart at 8.15am and make their way in convoy down the Solent to the start area at the western end of the Solent past Hurst Castle. Viewing should also be possible along the race course.
Recommended areas are:
· Fort Albert on the Isle of Wight.
· Hurst Castle
· Portland Bill
· Anvil point
· South West Coast path around Torquay Harbour
· Haldon Pier Torquay
Check out the boats at the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes. You can view the boats from the path beside the dock on Saturday, or early on Sunday morning before the start.
08.15 Boats depart Cowes for startline
09:00 Start of Leg One - Cowes to Torquay
11:15 Boats start to arrive at Torquay - Haldon Pier
14:00 Torquay to Cowes Race Start from Haldon Pier
Further information about the race including course charts are available on the Cowes Classic website: Cowes 2013
The British Powerboat Racing Club wish to thank and acknowledge the support and assistance of the Cowes Harbour Master, the RNLI, Cowes Corinthian Yacht Club, the Torquay Harbour Master, HM Coastguard, and the Royal Yacht Squadron.