British throttleman keen to add ninth title

Eight time world offshore champion, Steve Curtis, is confident his team will deliver wins and trophies in 2009.

Fresh from testing in Doha ahead of the season opener in Qatar on April 25, throttleman Curtis has vowed to return to winning ways after a disastrous 2008 campaign that saw his driver, former champion, Sheikh Hassan, without one race win.
“This year will be a very different story. We have put in a lot of work over the winter, and we are all very, very focussed.”

Curtis and Sheikh Hassan were out on the water at Doha Bay earlier this week, putting last year’s Qatar 96 through its paces. But with a second test planned next week in their rebuilt race boat – the ex-Spirit of Norway 10 which the pair trashed while qualifying last year and now fitted with Skema V12 power-plants – they will wait before deciding which boat to race this season.

“The first test went well. Our main focus with last year’s boat has been reliability and we have made some limited modifications to cover this. We know her limitations and we know she is very good in the rough,” said Curtis. “But even at this stage, my feeling is to run the rebuilt boat. We have made some radical changes and know the boat runs well in rough seas, but with the likelihood of limited rough races this year, we really need a boat that is also quick in flat conditions.

“My only concern is the implementation and policing of the rules. Last year it was not a level playing field and we were forced to race on the edge just to compete. This led to reliability issues.

“The core of our sport is based on rules and regulations, and it is up to the authorities, the World Professional Powerboat Association (WPPA), to implement what happens on a technical basis.

“We could have gone down the electronics route but decided not to. If the new rules that put more reliance on the skills of the driver and throttleman by limiting sophisticated electronics are implemented then we should be in very good shape.”