James Sheppard joins Craig Wilson in the P1 World Championship Evolution Class.
Britain’s James Sheppard, 39, who spectacularly won the UIM SuperVee Powerboat World Championship in Key West, Florida, last November, will join fellow countryman Craig Wilson, 26, in the new Ilmor Viper-powered Fountain Worldwide entry in the Powerboat P1 World Championship Evolution Class. The pair will make their debut next weekend in the Italian Grand Prix of the Sea off Naples.
James, who hails from West Sussex, brings along his long-time sponsors, ‘King of Shaves’, to this new team which promises to take Powerboat P1 by storm.
“This is a great opportunity for me and I am really looking forward to the challenge ahead,” said Sheppard. “To have the continued support of Will King and KMI is extremely gratifying and I hope I can bring them further success both on and off the water this year.”
Sheppard’s powerboat career started when he joined the London Motorboat Racing Club at 12 years of age and started circuit racing a 9.9 HP 250 cc Yamaha-powered Dart in the NA junior class.
It wasn’t until a visit to the London Boat Show at Earl’s Court in January 2001 and a chance meeting with multi-time Class 1 World Powerboat Champion Steve Curtis that his interest in powerboat racing returned.
Attracted by the new national Honda one-make series that was being run under the control of Curtis, James purchased the championship winning boat from the previous season and, following a successful approach to ‘King of Shaves’ to act as their primary sponsor, he and his navigator Neil Sinclair won the 130 series by a single point taking the title and accolades at the final race!
James and Neil then went on to dominate the Honda series over the next three years, initially with the smaller 130 design and then with the more powerful and challenging 225 HP Cougar hull. Ambitious and ready to try his hand in something more powerful, James briefly raced in the 2005 European ProVee series driving with 2005 Powerboat P1 World Champion Miles Jennings in the latter’s 950 HP Cougar monohull.
He raced last season in the Class 1 World Championship with Chris Parsonage, surviving a spectacular and well publicised 130 MPH accident at the British GP in Plymouth, before teaming up with Californian-based Englishman Nigel Hook to win the 2006 SuperVee World Championships in Key West.
Sheppard is highly rated as one of the sport’s best monohull racers and his partnership with Florida-based Craig Wilson in Powerboat P1 makes the combination one of the most potent forces to feature in this fast emerging Championship.
“Craig and I tested the race boat at the Fountain factory in North Carolina a few weeks ago, under the eyes of Reggie Fountain himself, and I was very satisfied with the package,” he explains. “The Ilmor V10 engines are superb. The hull works well. Now we just need to go racing.”