October 22 2014 Latest news:
Janine Rasiah, Senior Reporter
Monday, March 31, 2014
Powerboats and jet skis tore up Royal Victoria Docks during a high speed showcase of the P1 Championships to launch the new season.
Competitors raced along the half a mile and one-and-a-half mile courses at speeds of up to 65mph with each heat over in a matter of seconds.
Racers have described the marine watersports as being like “trying to run 10k while playing a game of chess” and as the courses are usually on open water, the built-up conditions provided a further challenge.
Competitors race in identical boats but the home advantage proved fruitful for the IFX Racing team, Londoners Nick Williams and Martin Robinson, who competed in the powerboat competition, P1 SuperStock Championship.
Spectators flocked to the riverside on Saturday to watch the eight teams race side-by-side in groups of four in the six heats which were followed by the grand final.
Nick, who works in Mayfair, said it was particularly special to follow in the footsteps of his father, Tony, a title-winning powerboat racer who competed in a F1 catamaran in the Royal Victoria Docks in the Eighties.
“It was so nice to be able to race where I used to watch my dad,” he said. “Winning is also a great indication of our speed off the line which is so important when you are racing from buoy to buoy because it is all about who is the quickest.”
Other competitors included Stuart Cureton, who works in securities for HSBC in Canary Wharf and can see the docks from his office.
He admitted that he had been closely watching the water in the weeks leading up to the event and competing at home gave him an extra buzz.
His wife, Sara, who navigates the boat, confessed that she got into the sport after getting fed up of being left on the sidelines.
“I got sick of standing and watching him so I joined a girls team, then we raced against each other and now we race together,” she said. “Logistically it makes sense for us and it is good fun - although sometimes the racing ends in arguments.”
Competitors in the jetski competition, P1 AquaX, entertained the crowds with racing across four divisions in tough and choppy conditions.
The action was based near the Siemens Crystal building, which housed an exhibition about the sport building.
Robert Wicks, P1’s Chief Operating Officer, said he hopes to bring P1 racing back to the docks.
“In 12 years of international racing this was the first time that our P1 boats had been on the water here in London,” he said. “The historic waterfront location, with the Emirates Air Line and The Crystal now enhancing the scene, was enjoyed by our powerboat racers and jet ski riders and provided great viewing for spectators.”