Fresh from their Class 3E win in May’s Round-the-Island Race, H400/Thunderstreak fought a battle of attrition in extreme sea conditions against often faster national and Isle of Wight-based competitors to cross the finish liner 10 seconds ahead of Peter Halls’ Cowes-based Mango Crazy.

This is the oldest offshore race-boat competing today, and Thunderstreak’s Class win at Poole was described as “… a remarkable achievement” by several competitors. Built in 1963 for the legendary racer Tommy Sopwith, this 31ft Bertram “Competition” has been restored and re-engined to compete in the United Kingdom Offshore Powerboat Racing Association [”UKOPRA”] 2024 UK national championships – achieving already back-to-back championships in 2022 and 2023, runners-up in 2021 and undefeated in Covid year 2020.

The Race

The Race saw some savagely-confused sea conditions, winds gusting F6 but provided excellent visibility under strong sunshine. The extreme conditions reflected the attrition rate of the previous day’s Round-the-Island sailing race and Poole also witnessed several hospitalisations and about 12 retirements or DNS* among the race-fleet. The 50-mile circuit of Poole Bay threw up unpredictable and sometimes severe seas with a wind-across-tide chop underscored by a 2-metre swell remaining from the previous days’ 52-knot wind.

Approaching the finish line, having just passed Mango Crazy. Thunderstreak

However, Team:RYS – comprising regulars Hugo Peel [driver] and Adrian de Ferranti [Throttles/trim] with a maiden outing for Dr. Jonathan Nainby-Luxmoore [navigator in place of regular Richard Jessel] survived with a few bruises and impacted knees, necks and backs.

Thunderstreak fared well with remarkably light damage. A perfectly-timed start off Bournemouth Pier saw this 61-year old race-boat approaching 60mph and was up among today’s 100mph+ Class 1 and 2 leaders flying [literally] eastward from the line. As the easterly mark near Hengistbury Head approached, sea state deteriorated further and the wind rose making the second leg of the triangular course out to the middle of the Poole Bay a severe test of design, seaworthiness and crews’ capabilities – and stamina.

Speeds below 25mph at times, with short spurts rarely exceeding 40mph. The third leg due north to the final turn before the start-finish straight enabled Thunderstreak’s weight and strength to overhaul several struggling class competitors and saw speeds exceed 60mph where possible.

Throughout the race, Thunderstreak consistently held second, third or fourth places in her class, but employed her inherent heavy-weather capabilities to snatch a class win by a mere 10 seconds ahead of its main competition – Peter Hall’s Cowes-based 1980s Hunton 28 Mango Crazy, a more modern hull design also with Mercruiser V8 engines. Other Cowes/Isle of Wight-based entrants such as IMOL and Top Banana [both 90mph+ 32ft Spectre Phantoms] retired through injury or mechanical failures.

Hugo Peel commented: “Thunderstreak continues to surprise us – and our competitors – for her continued racing success and impeccable turnout which are exclusively down to Team:Skipper John Simmonds and race-engineer Mike Wills. Without them, I sense that we would be mere spectators!”

Poole Bay 100 podium

Ukopra National Championship

This Class 3E win now places Thunderstreak and Team:RYS in a leading position in the UKOPRA UK national championships with 800 points, a 200-point lead over its nearest competitor with 2/3 further races to come this season.

The next planned race – the UKOPRA Solent 80 – slated for the weekend of 20/21 July out of Haslar Marina Portsmouth. It is to be run in the eastern Solent again, after several decades when known as the “Solent 70”, in which Hugo Peel secured his fir

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