Owner Chris Clayton tells of whirlwind last few days
One of the most spectacular results of the first leg was that of Gee, which defied the odds to win the Historic Class.
Gee was built in the late 1960s and took part in the first Round Britain Powerboat Race in 1969. She was leading until fuel problems forced her retirement, but in the same year she finished first in class in the Cowes-Torquay race, one of a series of results that endeared her to the racing public and marked her out as a hull of some quality.
She was restored in the late 1980s and has been given an additional overhaul for the 2008 race by proud new owner Chris Clayton, who as a devotee of racing history has retained the boat’s classic white livery and original race number.
Chris’ plans for the race 2008 were laid some time ago, but as with many well laid plans, things go awry, and it was only on last Thursday, two days before the race start, that Gee was actually launched.
Chris admits: “It has been very, very frantic. It’s been a whirlwind.
“We’ve been under so much pressure to get things working.
“We sea trialled her on Thursday evening, but the props weren’t right.
“We couldn’t get a lift-out because everyone had gone home. We saw someone at Hamble Yacht Services at the last minute and we shouted over.
“They got their cranes back in order to lift us right then.
“Meanwhile we had to rush round to Portsmouth to the drivers’ meeting or we’d have been disqualified.
“The next day Richard was up at 4am to drive to the propeller workshop, then drive back, and eventually we got to scrutineering with 15 minutes to go later that day!
“It really has been a miraculous thing to get the boat there for the start.”
With such last minute preparations, there were some on the pontoons who wondered if Gee would make Plymouth, let alone perform to her best.
They, however, were silenced as the classic hull, fitted with twin 480hp Cummins QSB inboards, stormed to a spectacular and popular class victory.
Chris says: “It was a great result. We took the offshore route and went straight across [Lyme Bay].
“We were pretty much by ourselves. There were very heavy seas but in the far distance we saw one of the faster class boats not making much headway so that gave us encouragement.
“We were out of the water and hitting every wave.”
Inspections this morning show the boat is holding up strong despite the battering.
With the news the second leg was cancelled, Chris and crew were straight on the phone to transport companies.
However it being Sunday morning, few were answering their phones.
After no less than 15 calls they found one who could help and the boat was underway to Milford Haven at the time of publishing on Sunday afternoon.
Talking to MBY from the back of the truck, Chris admitted: “I’m feeling quite content. It’s been a whirlwind but we are looking forward to the next leg.”