The August Bank Holiday weekend saw final positions decided in the 130hp and 225hp one-design championships.
Jack Glendinning and Simon Bucknall took pride of place on the podium for the second time this season after driving Warmup to victory in the final round of the 2003 Honda Formula 4-Stroke 225hp championship off Cowes over the Bank Holiday weekend. Although the championship leading boat King of Shaves clinched the title by winning the penultimate round, the Warmup team was thrilled to have triumphed in the most revered race on the offshore calender – the ‘Round the Island’.
“For a race that ended so well for us, everything seemed to go so wrong,” laughed Bucknall. “Our communications system and our satellite navigation system packed up before we even reached the muster area. Then we found that the water was really rough on the south side of the island and I was worried we might flip a couple of times. BAR Honda was right with us all the way so there was no margin for error or option to back off. It was definitely the most exciting race of the year and I’m delighted with the result.”
The crew of BAR Honda gained their best result of the season with a second place. Lymington-based driver Rob Lister was thrilled with the result but slightly disappointed to be lower on the podium than the Warmup team.
“I was hot off the start,” explained Lister. “We were second as we approached the Needles and were catching Warmup into St Catherine’s Point. Just before we rounded the island we managed to pass Jack and Simon but lost the lead again soon after. As we raced the final Solent lap we swapped positions a number of times but they just got us on the finish line. We fought hard though, and obviously I’d have preferred to win, but I’m very happy to come home in second place. I just hope I’m back here next year to finish the job!”
Championship winners of the 225hp series, James Sheppard and Neil Sinclair in King of Shaves, finished third, just ahead of Accucard, which had staged a remarkable comeback after its crew, Miles Dobson and Shaun Lapworth, rolled the boat over in the penultimate race the previous day.
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“We’re thrilled to have even started so fourth is a fantastic result,” commented Dobson. “After we rolled the boat we took it back to Southampton, emptied the fuel, changed the oil, took the engine apart and rebuilt it. We were never sure that the engine would restart!”
The 130hp Honda fleet also rose to the challenge of the Round the Island race, with 2003 championship winners Phill Haynes and Gareth Ebenezer in Team Impact finishing their near-perfect season with another phenomenal win.
“We knew we’d won the 2003 championship before the start,” commented Ebenezer, “but we were determined to win the Round the Island as well. This was our third attempt and the boat was perfectly set up. It was all going to plan until halfway round the course, by which time we’d built up an unprecedented lead of nearly half a mile. Then the hatch on the stern popped open and we had to stop to close it. By the time we had restarted, Jobs-at.com was right next to us with Blue Lizard just behind. We had a real battle on our hands, but lucky for us Jobs-at.com retired. Then Blue Lizard started gaining on us and we only just managed to ward them off, crossing the finish line about one boat length ahead of them. It was a great race and the ideal way to finish the season.”
A disappointed Nick Warren, driver of Jobs-at.com, explained, “We could have beaten Team Impact. Our boat was set up for the rough and as it got really choppy on the eastern side of the island we definitely had the edge. Then we hit a wave just off Bembridge Ledge and the force of the impact punished my back. I carried on until the Fort but then had to retire as it was just too painful. I’m desperately disappointed.”
Alien, raced by Alan Young and Ian Bull, finished this final 130hp race in third position.
An eventful Pro-Vee European Cup round saw Mario Invernizzi and Giovanni Carpitella in Ceramica Panaria break the Round the Island world speed record with an average speed of 88.55mph. Having completed the statutory 55-mile course as part of round six of the 2003 championship, the Italian team caught the wake of a spectator boat and flipped a full 360 degrees.
“I’m disappointed about the incident,” confirmed Invernizzi. “The boat turned a full 360 degrees, skimmed the water upside-down, then righted itself. I actually could have continued but I’d lost the engine cover that would have resulted in disqualification. It’s frustrating. I was so close to the finish line and I needed the points for the 2003 championship. I’ve now got to win the final two rounds in Portsmouth next month to scoop this year’s title. However, it’s not all bad. I’m absolutely delighted with the world record.”
In the V-24.National Championship, also staged around the Isle of Wight, Ricky Hill and Alan Layton in Color Pro Colormet took race honours.