Preparation has included a visit to the dentist

At 75 years of age legendary navigator, offshore powerboat racer and self-confessed speed freak Dag Pike will be the oldest competitor when 2008 Round Britain Offshore Power Boat Race starts on Saturday.

He will also be one of the most experienced, having raced in every Round Britain since its inception in 1969, and was on the winning boat in 1984.

However, Dag says this will be final time.

He will be racing in Blue FPT, a boat Dag claims is a ‘gentleman’s boat’, but which is still capable of 65 knots.

Competing under the Greek flag, Blue FPT is one of the largest boats in the MC1 production class with a waterline length of 50ft.

It is being driven by owner Vassilis Pateras with co-pilot Panos Tsikopoulos.

Powered by three 480hp Fiat Power Technology engines, Blue FPT has a total of 1400 hp with a maximum speed of 65 knots – which is why Dag’s preparation for the race included a visit to the dentist to ensure his teeth are in top form before subjecting them to bone-crunching speeds over the eight legs and 1,400nm to come.

As navigator, Dag will be relying on two Raymarine C80 chartplotters which he has pre-programmed with the anticipated course.

His mantra – and the reason he got into high speed navigating – is that there’s no point going fast if you’re going in the wrong direction.

“At these sorts of speed, there’s very little opportunity for button pushing,” he says.

“The only changes I make will be to scale the display. It’s vital to have all the preparation done in advance and know you have reliable, consistent data coming up that’s easy to see.”

Raymarine’s integrated navigation systems are a far cry from the kit Dag used in the first race in 1969. He recalls using a compass and a watch to navigate through 65 miles of fog, managing to finish within 200 metres of the destination.

Consistency is the key to winning, he claims.

With three engines, Blue FPT will already have an advantage over her twin-engined competitors, because if one engine fails she can still achieve speeds of up to 50 knots.

As a trained navigator, Fellow and Member of Council of the Royal Institute of Navigation, Dag will be carrying traditional charts on board as well, but he is confident he will not need them.

www.roundbritainrace.co.uk