Round Britain Race

The more I learn about the Round-Britain Race in June, the more excited I get. Here at last is a powerboat race that people actually care about. Here at last is a race populated by have-a-go heroes in recognisable boats over an unbelievably demanding course that we all recognise and understand. It is precisely this challenge of ordinary people undertaking an extraordinary feat that makes it so absorbing.

Take the two entries we are having a closer look at this month on p94. Team 747 was dreamt up by four restless airline pilots in a bar during a brief stopover in their hectic flying schedule. Given that two of the four used to fly Concordes you might expect them to be competing in some carbon-fibre monster with jet-drives and every modcon available, but they’re hammering round Britain in a restored Fairey Spearfish with a couple of big new Cummins engines stuffed in the back. The fact that it appears to spend almost as much time in the air as it does in the water is the only clue to their day jobs.

Then there’s the Griffith family, who have taken part in every Round-Britain Race from the inaugural 1969 event to the one about to kick off in two months’ time. Richard Griffith, the family patriarch, is now 70 years old but has no qualms about slipping behind the wheel of a state-of-the-art Fountain powerboat capable of well over 100mph with his son beside him. His wife, daughter-in-law and grandchildren meanwhile will be running the logistics on shore.

Compare these two inspiring tales with the current perception of Class 1 offshore racing in which one wealthy team owner competes against another wealthy team owner in boats you’ve never heard of, in a location you’re never likely to visit, to see who’s got the biggest wallet. It’s not hard to see why I’m getting all frothed up about the Round-Britain Race and increasingly disillusioned about Class 1.

That’s why we’re busy training up one of our contributors to report back from on board one of the Round-Britain favourites. We’ll also be running a full list of all the runners and riders in next month’s issue and sponsoring one of the classes. You too can be part of this historic event by volunteering to be a safety boat as the race passes through your area or simply by turning up at one of the designated ports-of-call to support the crews (visit www.roundbritainrace.co.uk for details).

This is your chance to help make powerboat racing cool again. Don’t pass it up.