The only motorcruiser in the Round Britain Race
Those walking the Round Britain Powerboat Race pontoons could be forgiven for doing a double take as they spot a Botnia Targa 42 among the fleet of finely tuned powerboats and RIBs.
But this standard production motorcruiser is one of the race fleet, lying 29th overall and well ahead of many boats built specifically for speed.
Not only that, but it is the only craft in the fleet that has so far completed the full course.
When racing was cancelled due to heavy seas on leg two, most boats headed straight on to the next start by road.
The Belgian crew of the Targa 42, however, simply headed out to sea.
They faced a daunting voyage from Plymouth to Milford Haven, around Land’s End in near gale force winds and 9m waves.
Skipper Peter Vanhauter (pictured), from Ghent, says: “We wanted to go around Britain and going around Britain is going around Britain!”
He reveals that for the same reason he and his crew considered travelling around the top of Scotland, instead of going through the Caledonian Canal with the rest of the fleet yesterday.
“But we wanted to see the beauty of the Caledonian and see Loch Ness,” Peter continues. “And it was beautiful.”
But back to that Land’s End voyage.
He recalls: “We left Plymouth at 5pm and it was last light when we rounded. The rest of the passage it was night time and quite dark.
“On the way to Land’s End we had Force 7 with waves coming from all directions. It made it impossible to follow a pattern.
“Going round, it was very heavy. Once we were round, the waves were coming from the Atlantic, so we had to surf them sideways.
“It’s quite frightening because you know if you make a wrong move you can go over.
“Then it became dark and we couldn’t see where the waves were coming from.
“So we revved up a bit and just to make it easier we put Barry White full volume on the CD player to create a certain atmosphere.
“We got in at 3am and then we had a traditional party.”
Quite apart from that remarkable voyage, the Targa’s performance has been impressive to say the least.
Despite making all pre-race calculations for a circumnavigation at around 25 knots average, the Finnish-built boat, named Buro, is managing more like 34 knots average.
Peter says: “Our speeds remain the same, good or bad weather. The others have to throttle down.
“It says something about the Targa hull.
“The first leg we had an average of 31 knots. There was quite a bit of wind and when you see the small difference in average speed between us and the RIBs, then you know the quality of this hull.”
Fuel consumption is also better than expected, with the Targa running at less than three litres per mile so far.
The only modification to the standard Targa 42 is the props, which Peter changed from the standard G5s to G7s to allow for higher speeds over the race’s long legs.
They now run at 3150rpm to give them their average speed.
With half the race still to go, including two of the longest legs of 210 miles apiece, Peter and crew of Louis Massant, Lieven Van Hoecke and Frank Willemkens say they are anxious to be on the move again.
As the Belgian crew await the next start in Inverness tomorrow morning, strange things are afoot.
Peter reveals: “We have fraternised with the Scottish and all the Belgians are wearing kilts now.
“Passers-by are finding it quite strange to see people wearing kilts but talking Flemish.”
Targas are sold in the British Isles by Wessex Marine.