Our lads do good
The annual UIM-sanctioned World Offshore Powerboat Championships, run under the American Superboat International organisation, came to its conclusion in Key West on Sunday. There was a strong European presence with a number of P1 teams making the effort to compete in what is regarded as one of offshore racing’s legendary venues.
The ‘World Championships’ took place during the previous week with two qualifying races, held on Wednesday and Friday plus a final on Sunday. The first two races were short sprints, scoring half-points, while the series on the final day were twice the distance and counted for full points. The accumulated points from each racing class determined the respective ‘World Champions’. The 70 craft taking part were split into 15 sub-divisions so culminating in this number of new title holders!
There was tremendous local interest over the newly-crowned Powerboat P1 Evolution Class World Champions, James Sheppard and Craig Wilson. Their King of Shaves sponsored Fountain Worldwide had been shipped to the ‘States immediately following the Portuguese Grand Prix of the Sea and, apart for the removal of some weight, remained untouched.
The team had taken the decision to enter the difficult Super Vee Unlimited class and found themselves up against boats having as much as double, if not more, horsepower. Sheppard and Wilson were therefore hoping for reliability to win through.
Despite a power handicap, the boat ran flawlessly all week and finished an impressive second in each of the three races. It was only beaten by the much larger works supported Fountain 46’, using two 1500 HP supercharged Sterling V8s which can run at over 160mph.
A further two teams familiar to Powerboat P1, The Switch and Honeyparty.com, entered the Super Vee Unlimited class. A delay in customs for the Corsican-pairing of Eric Brotons and Bernard Albertini resulted in The Switch arriving at Key West just before the final race, while Honeyparty.com will be looking to put the event firmly behind them as they concentrate on building a challenge for the 2008 P1 title.
Honeyparty.com, the new Skater of Richard Carr and Paul Sinclair, powered by super-charged Chief V8 engines, experienced a number of small problems. The boat spun-out in the opening race, resulting in Sinclair hitting his crash helmet against the cockpit combing and losing consciousness for almost two minutes. Deciding not to compete in the second race, his place was taken by Team Manager Mark Pascoe.
Even putting eight-time offshore powerboat racing World Champion, Steve Curtis MBE, in the cockpit on a test-run failed to solve the problems and hence the boat did not start the final race.
In Super Vee, a class in which Lucas Oil-Outerlimits pilot Nigel Hook was the reigning World Champion (alongside James Sheppard), the US-domiciled Briton had elected at the last minute not to enter his 2007 championship winning Skater opting instead for the outfit he raced in the 2007 P1 World Championship. Joe Sgro partnered Nigel in the sinister looking black Lucas Oil boat but found it difficult to achieve the optimum set-up and speed to be competitive against the factory supported Fountains.