Last weekend the South Devon resort of Torquay, known as the English Riviera, enjoyed hosting its largest fleet of powerboat’s in over twenty years.
Twenty-seven teams competed in the opening round of the OCRDA Aqua Adrenaline Tour series which will take the racer’s all over the UK, including rounds at Caernarfon, Cardiff in Wales, and Dunoon in Scotland.
At the weekend there were twelve novice racer’s competing in their first power boat race and one of the new team’s that were making their debut at Torquay was Magic Time Racing, with Max Walker teaming up with Ben Jelf as navigator in a Banshee hull.
However, testing on Friday afternoon revealed that the engine mounts on Walker’s boat had perished, and despite their best effort’s, there was no way that repairs could be implemented in time to allow them to compete.
I was looking forward to getting to grips with a new discipline even though I’m racing without the steering wheel in my hands.
Race One saw last year’s F1 Champion’s, Jeremy Gibson/Malachy Browne (Smokey and The Bandit 2) take a commanding win in a new boat for 2022 a Phanton19/Yamaha V4. They were followed home by the father and son pairing of Malc and Bradley Dopson in their Banshee (66 Racing) and Bob McCarthy/Robbie Mould in their Banshee (If Only).
In F2, it was the experienced pairing of Andy Childs/Mark Hayward (Fat Boy Twin) who took the win. Childs/Hayward are the defending F2, and National Champion’s and they were followed home by a new team of Rob and Colin Hingston (J D Racing), third place went to Ben Brown and Andrew Jenvey (Thurston).
In F3, four of the six teams were new, and it was a commanding win for Steve Cox and Harrie Shortman (The Lions) with a brand-new Phantom 16/Yamaha 90 for 2022. The mostly Carbon Kevlar composite boat was sporting a unique paint job, and the crew have certainly set the F3 bar high for their second year together and are hoping for a bullet proof season.
For second and third, it was a battle of the “newbies.” London based Darren Smith/Jemma Horwood (Pussy Riot) took the spoils from Simon Tyler and Alix Hopkins-Hayward (Hash Tag) in third. For Smith, Horwood, and Tyler, it was their first experience of powerboat racing. Previously they had undertaken an intensive three-day training course organised by Bob McCarthy, and now had successfully put all that into practice.
After the remaining three races of the weekend had been completed, it was consistency that paid off in the end for the experienced crew of Craig Temple-Murray and Paul Scott (55 Racing). Temple-Murray had decided to abandon the stepped hull Matahari 4 that he had used for a few seasons and switch to a new Phanton19/Mercury 175, a combination that worked out fine.
I was really getting to grips with the boat all weekend and found that I was able to take a much tighter line around the markers. Although we have not won a race here, a couple of second places on Sunday added to a third and a fourth we picked up yesterday means we have taken an early lead in the F1 Class, but we all know there is a long season ahead of us.
Finishing in second overall in class were McCarthy and Mould, followed by the experienced Richard Mason/Darren Douthwaite in a new boat Aqua Blast. Mason was incredibly pleased to be awarded the Concours Award on Sunday, the only award that has eluded him in his racing career.
The team to watch though in F1 at future rounds will be Chris Brown and Peter Snell (Chris Brown Marine). Although they did not start Race 1, they went on to win the other three races over the weekend leaving them fourth overall in class. If they keep that form up, they could be the team to beat this season.
It was a very disappointing return to Torquay though for the defending F1 Champions, Jeremy Gibson/Malachy Browne. A non-finish in Race 2 and lowly placings in Races 3 and 4 left them in seventh overall. Browne complained that he got very wet, as normally they are out in front leading the race and not being in the thick of the action.
Southampton based team of Ben Brown/Andrew Jenvey (Thurston) had a great Sunday – winning both races in F2. With a second and third from Saturday, they left Torquay in the lead of F2. Defending Champions Andy Childs/Mark Hayward could not repeat Race 1 success with two second places on Sunday and a third on Saturday ensured that they finished second overall.
After the fourth race Hayward said
We are slightly disappointed as we feel that we should have gained a place after the boat that finished ahead us had a missing an engine cover as they crossed the line.
Childs and Hayward have an enviable record from 2021 when they won twenty-three out of the twenty-four races, the only one they did not win was cancelled.
Third place in F2 went to another new team – Rob and Colin Hingston (J D Racing). They achieved a win in the second race on Saturday to add to a second place in Race 1. The conditions on Sunday did not suit them as well, yielding a fourth and fifth.
The most impressive performance of the weekend was that of Cox and Shortman (Lions) who took a clean sweep of wins in F3. They were certainly roaring, although their mascot was looking a little bedraggled after two hours of racing around Torbay.
Second place in F3 was taken by Smith/Horwood (Pussy Riot) from Tyler/Hopkins-Hayward (Hash Tag). Tyler’s navigator from the Training Weekend, had decided the sport was not for him, so Hopkins-Hayward stepped in at the last moment. The first time they had met was a couple of hours before Race One and Tyler credited their success to the experience that Hopkins-Hayward brought to the team.
In F Sport, it was another new team John and Josef Watson (Orb) who left Torquay leading the class. James Waterfield/Nicky Spencer (American Express) along with Ian Brusby/Mike Rothlaan (Rough Cut Racing) did not compete on Sunday, after a race win each on Saturday.
The Tour now heads off to Caernarfon, Wales in a months’ time.
The OCRDA 2022 Calendar
June 3 -5 Round 2 Caernarfon (Round 1 Nations Cup)
July 8 – 10 Round 3 WestBay (Round 2 Nations Cup)
July 22 – 24 Round 4 TBC
August 5 – 7 Round 5 Kings Lynn
September 9 – 11 Round 6 Dunoon (Round 3 Nations Cup)
October 7 – 9 Round 7 Cardiff Bay
Photos supplied by Nigel M Cole and John Charters