Nikki Drummond reports on the recent 2022 Coniston Power Boat Records Week and its truly eclectic array of contenders and steeds, all vying for the honour of achieving a coveted title upon Coniston’s historic, record-breaking waters.
The first week in November (31/10 – 4/11) saw speed demons flock to Coniston for the 50th anniversary of the annual Power Boat Records Week. Thirty-one entrants made the journey to this normally sleepy village in the Lake District in a bid to grab their place in the history books.
British racers were joined by two international competing teams. Thundercat husband and wife Mathieu and Tiffany Chiarini-Dutto travelled from southern France looking to raise the 2016 P750 Modified class record held by Britain’s Tom Williams-Hawkes at 71.35mph. The daring duo secured the world record at their first attempt, increasing the existing high to 72.67mph, but they were not done there, as they managed to up their speed a further two times to claim the world and French National P750 Modified record at 74.58mph.
Matieu & Tiffany hear their record © Rob Clifford – RJC Photography.
Also joining the pack were Germany’s Hagan Jerzynski and co-driver Stef Scheepers in the UIM B-300 boat Chica. The German team managed to secure a new world and German national best in the UIM B-300 class at 76.70mph before their long journey home.
Hagan Jerzynski and Stef Sheepers in Pleasure Navigation Endurance B300.
The conditions were less than perfect throughout the whole week, with many Circuit racers having to wait until the onset of dusk before they could attempt their first runs. The weather even proved problematic for the offshore racers: despite four separate entries and several attempts, none of the offshore teams could match Bob McCarthy’s 2021 OCRDA F1 class record of 68.17mph, with even Bob himself falling short, although I’m sure they’ll all be back in 2023 to try again.
Graham Leech Aquabike Sport GP. © Rob Clifford – RJC Photography
One individual who didn’t seem fazed by the conditions was the youngest record breaker of the week, 15-year-old Kyle Horton, who took a break from his schoolwork to attend the event. Finishing fourth in the JSRA 2022 championship, the youngster entered three different ski classes in the hope of claiming his place in the history books as one of the youngest Aquabike competitors that Records Week has seen. By the end of the week, Kyle had secured himself a coveted K7 Silver Star for breaking a record under 100mph, laying claim to the world and British Aquabike Runabout GP3 record at 57.01mph, and a British best in the Aquabike Runabout Naturally Aspirated Class of 74.73mph.
Walking away with one world and three British records was fellow Aquabiker Graham Leech, who has been making the annual pilgrimage for over 10 years now. He increased the world and British Aquabike Sport GP record to 71.22mph, before establishing the British Aquabike Runabout 4-Stroke Stock record at 59.59mph and increasing the British Aquabike Vintage 550 best to 52.71mph. When asked what draws him to Coniston every year, he had this to say: ‘Records Week is the only time as a sport we all get together across the disciplines. We are all competing but with different goals and in different classes, so there’s a real camaraderie among everyone that comes to Records Week and that’s why many of us come back every year.’
Dale Williams OCJSR OCJ-300 © Rob Clifford – RJC Photography
Completing the Aquabike record line-up was Dale Williams, who established the fastest Aquabike record of the week at 84.33mph in the National Aquabike OCJSR OCJ-300+ J1 class.
Fresh from the Circuit
Ben Jelf S Unlimited. © Rob Clifford – RJC Photography
Patience was key for the Circuit racers, but their efforts weren’t to go unrewarded as all eight Circuit racers secured a record during the week, with three of the 50th Records Week world records being claimed by Circuit powerboat racers.
The first run of the week went to Adam Brown, the son of former Records Week chairman Robin Brown, who was instrumental in bringing the event to its spiritual home of Coniston back in 2005. Adam secured a world and British best in the Diesel Outboard class at 62.84mph powered by Cox Marine’s CXO300 engine, a 4.4L V8 diesel outboard.
George Elmore patiently waiting for his run
Newcomer to Records Week 17-year-old George Elmore went in search of a K7 Silver Star, but with the weather hindering early attempts, the youngster decided to play the long game and was one of the first in the pits each morning and one of the last to leave in the hopes of securing a record and the ultimate goal of the 50mph barrier. George established the Clubman 1000 British best at 48.25mph, which he further increased to 51.93mph before the record was clinched by Bill Owen in his T850 Monohull at 56.94mph, which would see George trying to chase him down for the rest of the week to claim it back.
Oban Duncan Clubman 1000 Catamaran. © Rob Clifford – RJC Photography
The fastest lady of the week was 16-year-old Oban Duncan, who went in search of teammate Jonny Brewer’s 2021 Clubman 1000 Catamaran record, which sat at 70.89mph. Following her second run of the week, Oban waited patiently to recover her F4 catamaran, convinced that she was still off the record. But joy and elation followed when her times were announced, as she’d claimed the record at 73.68mph. Her next run would see her improve that to 74.73mph and earn her K7 Silver Star.
16 year old Oban Duncan awaiting her run.
One of the pluckiest competitors of the week was hydroplane racer Thomas Mantripp. Record breaking is a completely different experience from racing, and it can be quite lonely being the only boat out on the water on a course where you can’t see what the weather is doing over the whole length. So imagine pushing yourself and your boat to the limit, and then try to imagine doing it head first with your face just inches off the water! This is exactly what faced Thomas Mantripp on his record runs as he looked to reclaim his OSY400 high that he had broken in 2017, only to have it later claimed from him during the week. On his second run in far from perfect conditions, the young racer set a new British OSY400 best of 65.35mph.
Thomas Mantripp OSY400
86th Gold Star
Ben Jelf’s F2 200 APX.
Also pushing his F2 to the limit was Jonny Brewer, who after claiming his K7 Silver Star in 2021 was looking for a K7 Gold Star to add to his collection. On his maiden run, and with the first record of the week to break the 100mph mark in the S2000 class, he established the class record at 116.659mph, claiming his K7 Gold star, historically the 86th Gold Star to be awarded. Jonny would later increase his record to 122.44mph.
Ben Jelf travelled with the new Mercury 200 APX engine to put the new F2 class engine through its paces. Having proved that it was a suitable replacement for the Optimax 200 during the season’s racing, Ben and his team, in what was deemed a development year for them, were interested to see what straight-line speed the engine was capable of and how it would perform in trying to maintain the top-end speed required. In his first run of the week, Ben established a British F2 200 APX best of 113.29mph, which he would further increase to 119.40mph. With inclement weather causing havoc at Records Week, the Circuit racers were running back to back to try to make the most of any gap in the weather, so Ben headed out to attempt a run in the S Unlimited class, managing to establish the record at 121.80mph and bagging himself another British and world best in the process.
Fastest of the week
Record breaking as an event is steeped in history, and the fastest record run of the week in the F2 class was no exception, with Sam Whittle, who had broken the British best in 2021, deciding to chase down father Keith’s world record, which stood at 132.18mph from 2013. Patience paid off, and in the best conditions of the week, Sam smashed his dad’s record with 133.23mph. Not finished there, his attentions turned to the Formula Grand Prix and British record, which was currently set at 122.77mph. He managed to raise it by just over 11mph, setting a new British best of 133.79mph with the fastest run of the whole week.
With 31 entries in total, despite the weather having a huge part to play, 164 runs were attempted, with one French, one German, seven world and 19 British records being achieved.
Congratulations to everyone that competed during the week, and to the volunteers who gave up their time to enable the event to happen – there are too many to mention individually. The week ended with a prize giving full of glitz and glamour that saw Records Week OOD and stalwart Richard Solomon sadly announce his retirement after 50 years of dedication to this momentous event and the sport of powerboat racing in general.
SAVE THE DATE
The 51st annual Power Boat Records Week will take place on Coniston Water between 30th October and 3rd November 2023.