Who cares about Class 1?

If it weren’t for the superhuman achievements of Steve Curtis, I don’t reckon many boat owners would give a damn about Class 1 racing in this country. In the latest blow to its popularity, the British round of the series has been quietly dropped from the calendar due to the lack of sponsorship.

It’s a crying shame – the sight and sound of these machines hurtling across the water at 130mph is still an awesome experience, but the series has only itself to blame. The Class 1 circus has become so far removed from the type of boating us mere mortals do that it no longer fires our imagination. Even in Formula 1 most of the cars still bear the names of production car companies that we can all associate with such as Ferrari, Mercedes, Renault and Toyota.

How encouraging then to discover that Mike Lloyd’s bold plan to revive the Round-Britain race of 1969 seems to be striking a chord with a whole new generation of motor boat owners. He came to see me the other day, complete with a bulging briefcase full of emails and letters from would-be competitors wanting to know more about next year’s race. The really surprising thing is that although some of the names sounded more than a little familiar (Buzzi, Curtis, McGrigor et al), there were also dozens of regular punters wanting to have a crack at it in their Sunseekers, Fairlines, Windys and Faireys.

It’s not hard to see why. Imagine being allowed to race at Le Mans in your Porsche 911 alongside the likes of Fernando Alonso, Nigel Mansell and Stirling Moss. Who cares if they streak away from you within the first lap? You’ll still be competing in the same event and sharing beers and tears every evening. Even if you’re just spectating, you’ll be cheering on boats that look, sound and perform remarkably like the one you own. As far as I am concerned this is the missing link between the rarefied world of the Class 1 boys and the type of boating you and I enjoy.

That’s why we’ll be doing everything we can to support Mike’s efforts, running regular updates on the event, donating prizes and hopefully even taking part in the race ourselves. You can get a flavour of what it will be like by reading Brian Peters’ memories of the inaugural 1969 race. All Mike needs now is the sponsorship money to run the race. How good would it be to see the likes of Sunseeker, Fairline, Princess and Sealine stepping in to make this a showcase for the best that British boating has to offer? After all, if one of their boats can survive 13 days of pounding around the British coastline, it should be good for the occasional swell off the Needles.