Five-time world champion ends glittering career - leaving Britain's Steve Curtis without a driver
The announcement in Dubai that five-time Class 1 World Powerboat Champion, Bjorn Gjelsten, is to step down brings to an end a glittering career during which he dominated the sport. It also brings to an end his remarkable partnership with Britain’s Steve Curtis, who he raced alongside, winning 34 Grand Prix from 82 starts in a racing career spanning ten years.
“I feel that this is the right time for me to retire and there are many reasons which have influenced my decision,” said Bjorn Gjelsten. “It is a question of priorities and about the commitment and the time that the sport demands as well as the physical and mental demands needed to remain at the top of your game.
“I am very proud of my team, Spirit of Norway, and what we have achieved together over the years. We have had tremendous success and set many records which I believe will be hard to beat. To achieve what we have has taken tremendous commitment and has required us to be focussed and professional at all times.”
Gjelsten started his racing career in the USA in 1994, teaming-up with Steve Curtis in 1996 to form what was to become the greatest driver-throttleman partnership in the sport’s history. He took his first win in Class 1 in 1997 in Dubai and went on to win the World and European Championships the following year. From 2002, Gjelsten and Curtis were the dominant force in Class 1, and Gjelsten established himself as unquestionably the number one driver in the world, setting a string of records in the process. Gjelsten and Curtis are the only pairing to have win three consecutive world titles, four consecutive Pole Position titles, take the most number of race wins and win all rounds of a Pole Position Championship in a season.
Bjorn Gjelsten took a year’s sabbatical from racing in 2005 but came back in 2006 to complete the grand-slam of World, European, Middle East and Pole Position Championships for the second time – a feat only ever achieved by Spirit of Norway. His tally of titles reads like a who’s who of racing, taking five World, four European, four Middle East and six Pole Position Championships
Bjorn Gjelsten will be remembered for rising to the challenges he faced, for setting new standards and raising the bar to a level of intensity and professionalism that will be hard to match. And it is fitting that he ended his Class 1 career as he started it – winning in Dubai – 82 races and 34 Grand Prix wins later.