MBY assesses the head of the fleet

While the boat at the head of the fleet, Blue FPT, is an hour ahead and looking ominously consistent, there is a massive battle shaping up for second and third spots on the podium.

And the fight will be an almost entirely British affair!

The top end of the Round Britain fleet represents the cream of British powerboating and RIBbing.

Lying second overall at this stage is Hot Lemon (pictured), a Scorpion RIB whose original design team included MBY chief boat tester Dave Marsh.

It is no surprise to see this boat up at the top of the fleet. Its owners, father and son team Mike and Dave Deacon, have captured a host of records to make the boat one of the best-known and successful RIBs of all time. It is fitted with twin 315hp Yanmar inboards.

Mike and Dave take in your average Round Britain leg as weekend entertainment and they have fitted the boat out for offshore performance rather than comfort.

As they say themselves: “In the right conditions, Hot Lemon will run close to 60 knots but her real strength is a superb ability to maintain high average speeds in arduous conditions.”

They also have an excellent website about Hot Lemon and her achievements www.hotlemon.com .

Behind the Deacons lie Bobby Cowe and Hamish Slater, both from Fraserberg, Scotland, in a Scanner RIB called Braveheart III.

Despite being fitted with a useful 1050hp total coming from twin Mercruiser inboards, the boat was unfancied before the race and certainly its high prow and rather tank-like profile do not suggest great speed.

But as we’ve seen already, consistency is the name of the game in the Round Britain and Bobby and Hamish have put in a series of great results to show many of the better-known names what it’s all about.

Although British entries dominate the top of the table, in fourth place overall we have Vilda.

This is a mixed Swedish team with a highly professional approach and a menacing all-black Dahl RIB boasting a very fast and light Ocke Mannerfelt hull. Again, they have an interesting website www.vildarib.se 

Just a few minutes behind them in the standings is LionHead, the Norwegian entry carrying Dorset man James Sydenham. This is a prototype Goldfish 36 RIB which reportedly won the respect of the scrutineers after pre-race scrutineering in Gunwharf Quays for its military-like approach.

The crew and boat have since won the respect of the fleet, too, after a run of fast results put them first overall until mechanical problems on yesterday’s leg dropped them down the field.

With a mouth-watering top speed of 90 knots and an ability to thunder through the rough, this is perhaps the most threatening boat in the top placings.

Hardleys, lying sixth and just six minutes behind LionHead, is crewed by two of pre-race favourites.

British men Neil McGrigor and Tony Jenvey were two of the Bradstone Challenger team that broke the outright Round Britain Speed Record three years ago.

Among other things, Neil was the man who discovered the new source of the River Nile, using a Zapcat, in 2006.

He has been around Britain several times including successfully in the team’s tried and trusted 10m Revenger RIB, fitted with twin 315hp Yanmar inboards.

Around 20 minutes back, but still in with a chance at a final podium finish, is the out-and-out powerboat Racing Silverline.

This is a craft designed for the competitive P1 world series and has a veritable superstar line-up on board: Drew Langdon is one of the most respected and determined racers on the scene; Miles Jennings is a former P1 world champion; and Jan Falkowski has a powerboating and RIBbing CV to rival anyone’s. Among a host of achievements, he was a key member of Alan Priddy’s RIB adventures that crossed the Atlantic.

Not even they can take it easy, though. Four minutes behind them is Going Lean.

This is perhaps the most extraordinary entry in the race.

A year ago owner Dean Gibbs had never done any boating in life. A keen motorsports fan, he thought he was donating funds to help race happen; two weeks later he received an entry form!

In for a penny, in for a pound, and Dean dived into the adventure head first, buying a Sunseeker XS to do the race in and signing up for intensive powerboat race lessons from former world champion Neil Holmes.

Neil himself and former Honda Formula 4-Stroke series champion Shelley Jory are helping run the boat – most effectively, as it turns out, and Dean must be pinching himself as he goes head to head with some of the biggest names in the business.

All of those boats are lying at around the 15 hour mark on elapsed time so far, with two legs left to run.

The next boat down is at 16 hours. Of course, in a powerboat race of such a gruelling nature, man and machine can break at any moment. The fall of the Norwegian Goldfish RIB, looking so strong yesterday, to fifth place and an hour behind the leaders, shows how quickly things can change.

But one thing is for sure: the Brits are showing their class and will certainly dominate the podium. Remember that the navigator on board the leading boat, Blue FPT, is British man Dag Pike.

British motorboating, RIBbing and powerboating is alive and well.