• James Tapp

ThunderCat Racing, ‘In a League of Their Own’

There was a double whammy for the sport of ThunderCat Racing on the 22nd and 23rd June 2018. In addition to staging round five of the RYA P750 ThunderCat Racing British Championship, the Solent Longhaul, the sport also played host to the filming of a segment of ‘A League of Their Own’ which should give extra prominence and interest to the sport in the UK.

The “Stars of Sky One’s ‘A League of Their Own’, Freddie Flintoff, Jamie Redknapp, Romesh Ranganathan and Tom Davis all thought they were going to have an easy ride when they headed to Universal Marina for a safety briefing and training on Friday 22nd June 2018 …expecting to go out and race much larger powerboats. However later in the day the directors gave them a shock and announced to them that they would be racing the much smaller, dynamic and agile ThunderCat boats. After much training, two teams raced off at 4.30pm against each other from the parade Cowes Beach. You will have to find out who won in September. Congratulation to both the ThunderCat racing Community and Universal Marina for all the hard work in the background and for giving the sport such a fabulous advert.

After all this excitement, it wasn’t long for the racers and volunteer officials to get ready for the main action next day…round five of the RYA P750 ThunderCat Racing British Championship. Called the Solent Long-haul, this event is a departure from the usual type of ThunderCat Racing you will see across the UK. Instead of the normal rough and tumble of off the shore racing, the ThunderCat powerboats faced a gruelling 100km across the Solent….a true test of endurance and bravery.

The Solent Haul is all about navigation and is entirely different to racing on the surf. The eleven teams had to race around eight different markers across one long lap and one short lap. Because there is very little space on the small racing boats, there was very little equipment to aid navigation except a laminated course map stuck on the hull.

This year’s race which launched and was recovered from Warsash. The Prostock and modified four-metre long inflatable catamarans with 50 horsepower motors raced from Lepe buoy opposite Lepe beach and head down to Sconce buoy opposite Hurst Castle, then up to Gurnard buoy, Gurnard, Isle of Wight. The boats reached speeds of up to 70mph providing some a fabulous spectacle for those spectating from RIB’s

Before the start, all the teams converged together in the Solent to give a memorial to Wayne Gerber, Mike Salber and Lotars Millers, three powerboat racers across the globe who all tragically died doing the thing they loved…powerboat racing.

The race indeed was not without drama. From last year’s Prostock winners, Bulletproof46 having their gearbox smashed to pieces and lost to the seabed after hitting debris in the water at full race speed, to a modified favourite breaking down 50 metres from the finish line. However, the stars of the day were Kingfisher Fire & Security led by Jordan Le-Bon and John Cotgreave who had an impressive barrel roll at full speed near the start. They managed to right their boat, make engine repairs, restart and complete the entire course within the allowed time.

Winning the Prostock race were Multispark Onyx (Bligh Julius & Will Gawn) who benefited from racing on home turf. In second place were Multispark Racing Products 61 (James Tapp & Scott Brown) followed by father and daughter team Haggis Hunters (David & Ashleigh Finlayson). Ocean Racing 55 (Andy White & Phil Adams) was the winner of the modified race.

Thanks to the myriad of volunteers who gave their time to make this race possible as well as the River Hamble Harbour Authority, RNLI, The Rising Sun and Universal Marina for supporting the race! Lastly thanks to powerboat commentator Shelley Jory-Leigh for providing up to the minute race coverage on Facebook Live.

Our next event are rounds six and seven of the RYA P750 ThunderCat Racing British Championship on August 4th -5th which will take place at Minehead. Let’s hope this glorious Summer weather continues so that the massive audience from the beach can see some excellent ThunderCat racing …..and of course, don’t forget to stay tuned to our website for details of when the ThunderCat Racing segment will appear on ‘A League of Their Own’.

Pictures courtesy of Jerry Lake

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