THIS WEEKEND! London ExCel Powerboat Racing

Amazing scenes! The Formula One of the water, 0-100mph in 5 seconds, 6-G turns, 30 drivers from 15 countries, serious racing action, exhibition wakeboarding and water displays, all weekend. The British Powerboat Grand Prix, London Excel, Saturday 17th and Sunday 18th August 2002. Are you ready for this?

Got much on this weekend? Not a lot? Well check this out. The British Powerboat Grand Prix takes place this weekend, Sat-Sun 17/18 August, at the ExCel Centre, Royal Victoria Dock, London. The boats are 16ft 2L Formula 2000 catamaran inshore racing boats and they go like stink, doing 0-60mph in 2.9 seconds and 0-100mph in less than five seconds! They have a power to weight ratio similar to Formula One cars, pull up to 5.8 Gs going in to the highest speed bends and they pull 3 Gs on deceleration! All the engines are six-cylinder 230hp Mercury 2-litre outboards, which power these feather light boats to speeds of up to 120mph and these finely balanced boats can accelerate from 0-120mph in just 800 yards! When up and running, they ride on the last three inches of the hull – so boat design is more about aerodynamics than hydrodynamics in the Formula 2000 class.

Between 23 and 26 boats are due to start on Saturday, a field that will be reduced in preliminary races to 18 starters for Sunday’s Grand Prix. The course, marked out in Royal Victoria Dock, is roughly rectangular and time trials last approximately 30 minutes. In between trials and races, watch the on-the-water displays which include a spectacular exhibition of wakeboarding from some world class boarders. At 15.45 on Saturday, a two-hour match race championship pits the teams against each other over Grand Prix length course and duration. With such quick boats and a large field, safety is a concern. “The sport has benefited from the introduction of Kevlar safety cells around the driver’s cockpit, similar to those found in motor sport, as well as self-righting devices that lift the driver’s end clear of the water in the event of a crash” says Simon Maurice of Chicane, organisers of the Grand Prix meeting. “The sport has become much safer over the last eight years”. It needs to be; just a matter of 10mph or so and a few horse power behind Formula 1 circuit racing, the highest-powered circuit racing class, Formula 2000 claims to be the fastest inland formula of powerboat racing that can be held at enclosed venues such as ExCel. The race organisers hope that up to 20,000 spectators will discover this for themselves.

There’s fast action all weekend with practices, trials and races throughout. The fun starts at 10.00am Saturday until 18.00, then again at 09.45 Sunday through to 17.00, with the British Grand Prix kicking off at 15.30 Sunday. Access is via the ExCel East entrance, which can be accessed by road or Docklands Light Railway, Prince Regent Station. Get down to the powerboat racing event of the year in Docklands this weekend. Hold on to your hats!


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