Southampton powerboat champion Steve Curtis added another title to his impressive 2002 tally when he won BBC South's 'Sportsman of the Year' at this weekend's glittering awards event
Southampton powerboat champion Steve Curtis added another title to his impressive 2002 tally when he won BBC South’s ‘Sportsman of the Year’ at this weekend’s glittering awards event. The BBC South honour crowns a spectacular year for Steve which has seen him clinch a hat-trick of racing titles including the 2002 World Class One, European Class One and World Class One Pole Position championships.
Class One is the offshore equivalent of Formula One with 170mph powerboats racing at venues around the world for the most prestigious awards in powerboat racing. Steve’s wins have earned him a place in the record books as the most successful Class One pilot of all time, having notched up no less than four World Championship titles (1985, 1987, 1998, 2002), the latest 17 years after he first entered the record books as the youngest competitor and first Englishman to ever capture the Class One crown.
Steve’s role as throttleman requires him to dictate the pace and decide how best to set up the boat and at what speed to run the engines, leaving his Norwegian driver Bjorn Rune Gjelsten to steer and select the best course. Curtis and Gjelsten in ‘Spirit of Norway’ dominated the 2002 Class One season with four grand prix wins in Germany, Britain, Norway and Turkey and they arrived at the final round in Dubai having already won the pole position title and only requiring a top-seven finish to reclaim the World title. The Anglo-Norwegian pairing took second place at the Dubai GP behind their closest rivals Ali Nasser and Ali Al Qama in Victory 7 to win the eight-round world title by eleven points.
“It’s been a great year for me,” commented Steve, “and the BBC South award is the icing on the cake. It was the toughest World Championship I have ever won and although we went into the final race knowing that we only needed a top-seven finish, we still had to minimise the chance of mechanical problems by taking things easy. I suppose that earlier in my career I might have gone all out to win the race but I’m older and wiser now and we were happy to settle for second and the world title. I had no idea then that I’d be collecting another award later in the year so last night was a fantastic surprise.”
Steve is also in contention for the national BBC Sports Personality of the Year award. To vote for your local champion, go to www.bbc.co.uk/sport/ then click on ‘sports personality’ then ‘how to vote’.