Babes bring Lite Relief to Cowes

Shelley Jory and Darrell Elmes, Southampton’s foremost all-female powerboat crew, will be hoping for heavy weather during the Honda Cowes Classic, starting 1 September

Shelley Jory and Darrell Elmes, the all-girl powerboat racing team from Southampton, will be racing into Cowes, Isle of Wight in an attempt to win the RYA British 1.3 litre Championship on Saturday 1 September, part of the Honda Cowes Classic Festival.

Shelley, who runs a bridal wear business in Southampton, began racing with her boyfriend Peter Berrow in 1996 as a navigator. Last year she took up the ultimate challenge and bought her own powerboat and placed her hands firmly on the steering wheel. She cajoled her best friend Darrell to navigate and the only all-female racing team; ‘Babe Lite Relief’ took the racing scene by storm.

Notably, in atrocious weather conditions where bigger craft retired, Shelley and Darrell battled their way around the Isle of Wight to complete a gruelling season to finish third in the RYA National Championship.

But this year the two girls have found that their nearest rival is none other than Shelley’s boyfriend, Peter. “We have been racing neck and neck all season,” said Shelley. “In one race we finished just half a boat length apart. Unfortunately, Peter got to the chequered flag first but Darrell and I intend on reversing that and winning the Championship in Cowes.”

Shelley also has her sights set on the prestigious Ladies Prize, presented in 1987 for the first woman to complete the Cowes or Round the Island course. Names on the trophy include Lady Vi Aitken, widow of Sir Max Aitken, founder of the Cowes-Torquay-Cowes race 41 years ago. “We race because we enjoy it,” said Shelley, “but obviously the Ladies prize in Cowes is very special and it would be a huge achievement to win it.”

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South coast interest also centres on the return to racing of the Earl of Normanton whose estate, Somerley, is at Ringwood, Hampshire. Lord Normanton last raced 24 years ago but the lure of the reinstatement of the race from Cowes to Torquay and back, proved irresistable. He will be racing with Hampshire businessman, David Allenby in a 38ft Cougar, aptly named Premier Crew, which has been shipped from Dubai for this event.

An all-time record entry of 87 International powerboats will arrive on the Isle of Wight on Thursday 30 August with racing over the weekend of 1-2 September.


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