- Ray Bulman
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Enthusiasm building for Cowes to Monte Carlo
If anyone still doubts the levels of enthusiasm out there for next year's the Cowes to Monte Carlo race - the first event in the Venture Cup series - they only need to head to the official website to see the number of boats involved. At last count, there were 47.
The fleet will consist of both old and new, with one of the oldest being the Don Shead-designed HTS, which was built in Cowes by Souter as Ralf Hilton's entry in the 1969 Daily Telegraph and BP Round Britain Race.
Although not successful in that event, it was HTS that three years later won the first London to Monte Carlo race. She went on to win the World Class II championship at Venice in 1979 before spending the next 20 years or so as an exhibit in the Motor Boat Museum at Basildon until its closure two years ago.
She has since been exchanged for an oil painting with its new owner installing a pair of brand new diesels transmitting via a couple of Lancing Marine surface drives. Talk about resurrection. I wish it luck but another victory after all this time would have me eating my hat!
Another contender from the same period but four years younger is Double Too Shirts, which began life as Another Bloody Omelette in 1974. She has also been re-engined and will be having her first outing for over 20 years at the RMYC Cancer Research Powerboat Race at Poole.
Both these vintage craft are not fast compared to modern offshore racers but have an outstanding history of reliability and this is what really matters in long-distance racing.
At the other end of the scale comes several new boats. One is Norwegian Ole Finholt's new 42ft (12.8m) Chief. It was designed by veteran American racer Bobby Saccenti and hence likely to be hot contender.
Another is the Vector 40 (pictured here) built for the Vector Offshore Racing entry of Tom Montgomery-Swan and the very experienced offshore racer Peter Dredge. These two boats represent just a fraction of the investment in the event. On average most teams have dedicated approximately £200,000.
This is made up of asset value and team expenditure during the 18 months of build-up, plus running costs for the race itself or simply outright boat value. At least a third of the fleet will have spent considerably more.
With a possible opening line-up of 50 teams, the race must now have the backing and support of crews in excess of £10 million. And in this economy, that's a major victory for the Venture Cup and reinforces just how keen competitors and manufactures are for this event.
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