Tough sea conditions for final Sprint Race in Portugal

Third place in Saturday’s Evolution Class Sprint Race in Portimao was enough for Fountain Worldwide boats.com to retain their World Championship crown, the first time back-to-back titles have been achieved in this class.

Using the same Fountain hull and Ilmor engine as in their rookie title season in 2007, the British paring of Sheppard and Wilson have notched up four wins and eight podium finishes in the 11 races run so far this year.

The Cigarette Fantastic 1 led an incredibly rough start lap but by the end of the third, Kiton Outerlimits was comfortably leading Fantastic 1 and Fountain Worldwide. The order stayed that way to the end, Kiton Outerlimits victory giving its crew a useful points boost in their bid to fill second slot on the points table.

“It was incredibly rough, but it’s great to have won again,” said Kiton Outerlimits team boss and throttleman Giancarlo Cangiano. “We have once again demonstrated that the Outerlimits hull is the strongest boat in rough conditions.”

GFN Gibellato – the only boat remaining outside the title contenders –
started the race in fifth place and, although it quickly worked their way up into fourth, were unable to close the gap on Fountain Worldwide. This left the Fountain Worldwide team enough points to retain the title ahead of Sunday’s Endurance Race.

“The rough conditions out there were worse than they were in Malta,” said Wilson. “The start was incredibly scary. After a few laps, we got the boat set up comfortably and as we were ahead of GFN Gibellato could control the pace. The whole team has done such a fantastic job in preparing the boat this year, but winning the title still hasn’t sunk in yet.”

Sheppard was equally awestruck.

“I’ve never been so happy to have come third in a race,” he said. “The conditions weren’t supposed to be that rough. We did all we could to push hard, and the temptation to race the Cigarette was quite big, but we just got into the right rhythm. We had discussed the plan beforehand, and stuck to it. It’s also great to have made Powerboat P1 history because no one has ever defended the Evolution class championship before.”

The crew of the 2008 SuperSport title-winning Conam Yachts continued their season-long winning streak in their morning Sprint race. Throttleman Angelo Tedeschi and pilot Aaron Ciantar surged through the fleet from fifth to first place three laps after a poor start. They then comfortably held lead position to score their class prize yet again.

Severe sea conditions on this morning (Sunday) forced the postponement of the Endurance race, the final contest of the 2008 P1 season. The organisers are hoping to run a modified course later in the day.