A one million pound British challenge to capture the world Class I (16-litre) offshore powerboat championship was launched in Plymouth by the city's Lord Mayor on 10 May.

A one million pound British challenge to capture the world Class I (16-litre) offshore powerboat championship was launched in Plymouth by the city’s Lord Mayor on 10 May.

The new team, headed by 46-year-old local property developer Chris Parsonage, is the first British attempt for the title since Welshman Ken Thorne withdrew from the sport four years ago.

Although the principle sponsor of the British round of the championship series at Plymouth over the past three years, Parsonage has little personal experience of offshore racing in the top league. He has therefore engaged New Zealand throttleman Peter McGrath who crewed Australian Bill Barry-Cotter to third place in the championship last year.

The new British team will drive Negotiator, a UAE built Victory catamaran hull powered by two 1000hp Lamborghini race engines capable of producing speeds of around 150mph (241kph). As well as a top class international fleet which includes leading teams from Italy and Dubai the pair will be facing reigning Class I offshore champions Bjorn Gjelsten and Britain’s five-time world championship winner Steve Curtis, both racing under the Norwegian flag.

“We want to use this season to find our feet,” said Parsonage. “If we finish our first year in the top six we will be more than satisfied and can look to the future with confidence.”