Britain's Ed Williams-Hawkes aims to crown his extraordinary powerboating career with victory in the sport's longest and toughest race. Williams-Hawkes, one of the most colourful and decorated characters on water, will be aboard the favourite boat, Wettpunkt.com, which is a 42ft, 1800hp, Isotta Fraschini-powered FB Design, in only the third running of the Round Britain event, starting in Portsmouth on Saturday 21st June.
He lost an eye in a powerboating accident more than 30 years ago yet is widely regarded as the best navigator in the business and has more than 200 wins to his name. Williams-Hawkes won Class 3 the last time the Round Britain was held, in 1984, and now intends to guide Austrian drivers Max Holzfeind and Hannes Bohinc - Wettpunkt.com team owner and one of the world’s most distinguished powerboat racers - through eight days' racing and 1,344 nautical miles of unpredictable hazards to outright success.
'This is THE classic as far as I'm concerned and a huge challenge for everyone,' he said. 'We've got the boat and we'll make sure the preparation is right, but you also need good fortune. You never know what you're going to face and you have to respect every opponent. It's not so much nerves I get going into a big race like this but panic.'
Williams-Hawkes, who wears a distinctive eye-patch and is known as 'The Pirate', maintains the injury made him a better and more determined competitor. 'I've never considered it a handicap,' he said. 'In fact it's worked the opposite way for me because I got more motivated by the accident. And I think the results have shown that.'
'Part of my game is to slow down Hannes. You have to make the drivers realise there's no point in going for it too soon and risk breaking something. The best strategy is to keep the leader in sight and then go for it in the later stages.'
'If we are still there and have the leader in sight with a day to go we'll have a chance. But then we won't be the only team thinking that!'
Once the Round Britain is underway, Williams-Hawkes will navigate his Wettpunkt.com crew-mates to Plymouth, Milford Haven, Bangor (N. Ireland), Oban, Inverness, Edinburgh, Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Lowestoft, before heading back to Portsmouth on 30th June where the team will be hopeful of claiming the top prize. www.wettpunktracing.com
. The Event
2008 Round Britain Race
Commencing from Southsea at 10:00am on Saturday 21st June
1,344 nautical miles
8 legs Saturday 21 June Leg 1
Portsmouth to Plymouth, Devon, England
130nm Sunday 22 June Leg 2
Plymouth to Milford Haven, Pembroke, Wales
180nm Monday 23 June Leg 3
Milford Haven to Bangor, Norther Ireland
201nm Tuesday 24 June Leg 4
Bangor to Oban, Argyle, Scotland (W)
113nm Wednesday 25 June Transit
Oban through Caledonian Canal to Inverness, Scotland (E)
80nm Thursday 26 June Lay Day
Inverness Friday 27 June Leg 5
Inverness to Edinburgh, Scotland
210nm Saturday 28 June Leg 6
Edinburgh to Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England
115nm Sunday 29 June Leg 7
Newcastle to Lowestoft, Suffolk, England
205nm Monday 30 June Leg 8
Lowestoft to Portsmouth