Team: Royal Yacht Squadron, campaigning the oldest offshore race-boat competing today, romped home in the UKOPRA-organised Round-the-Island Race on Saturday – averaging 65.27mph.

“H400/Thunderstreak, is a classic Bertram 31 race-boat,” reported Cowes-based owner-driver Hugo Peel, “and has been raced around the Solent since 1963 in the hands of legendary drivers like Tommy Sopwith, Olympic medalist Keith Schellenberg and former BOAC test-pilot Peter Twiss during the 1960s”.

Very Fast Race

The flat calm conditions favoured the younger, slimmer and faster race-boats with a record set by the winning average speed of 118mph by Goodboy Vodka. This demonstrates that six decades of race engineering, design and technology – much of it derived through Isle of Wight innovation and ingenuity – has raised the game in offshore powerboat racing significantly. Thus, today’s sports
boats are safer, faster and more efficient than ever. H400’s race-average belied her 61 years and would have been unheard of in her 1960s race-days!

A fleet of some 20+ entrants gathered at MDL Marina’s Shamrock Quay up the Itchen River, Southampton for scrutineering and safety briefings. The race began with the customary westward rolling start off East Lee channel mark in the eastern Solent just after midday for the 53+-nautical mile anti-clockwise circumnavigation. Thunderstreak had a very fast start, leading the fleet albeit for only
a very short time as the younger purpose-built, 125-mph+ leviathans with 2,000 horsepower caught and passed her.

Thunderstreak - H400

H400’s Winter Works Paid Dividends

“Our extensive winter works meant that H400 surprised several entrants in her Class 3E – but also smaller, younger boats which benefitted from the flat calm conditions,” said Hampshire-based throttle-man Adrian de Ferranti. Thunderstreak’s navigator had plotted the shortest possible course [but safest] which hugged the coast, avoided foul tides. “We shaved past the rocks and reefs off
the south of the Island after a careful recce and chart-study, and could have lobbed a biscuit onto the rocks – if they’d been showing,” said Bembridge-based navigator Richard Jessel.

“Our substantial winter refit means we remain a serious contender in an increasingly competitive powerboat racing class,” said Team:RYS leader, Hugo Peel. “We are up against competitors with vastly quicker fair-weather performance and decades younger than us – both in terms of age of crew and vessel,” observed Peel. “Our crew’s average age is comfortably north of 70 – and we need to look after ourselves as well as the boat!” Team:RYS is double championship-winning outfit [2022 and 2023] and were runners-up in 2021 and thus now race largely for sheer pleasure of the sport.

Bembridge Race-Teams Had Great Showing

Youngest entrants in a 19ft monohull were Bembridge lads Baylan Banks and Harry Pink in Motorvated Racing who won Class 3B in their maiden race. Also, Bembridge-based Peter Hall and Terry Parsons secured second place in Class 3E in their 600bhp+ classic 28’ Hunton Mango Crazy but were just five minutes behind class winner Thunderstreak.

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