The Solent will again reverberate to the sound of high powered, high octane powerboats this weekend.
The Cowes Classic – billed as the world’s most prestigious offshore powerboat race – takes place on Sunday ... and in a much anticipated change is starting off the Isle of Wight town.
The Cowes-Torquay-Cowes race, first held in 1961, covers a distance of 182 nautical miles.
The record of two hours, 18 minutes and five seconds was set in 2008 by Fabio Buzzi, Simon Powell and Rafael Del Pino from Italy in ‘Red FPT’ at an average speed of 91.1 mph.
Cowes is recognised as the birthplace of international powerboat racing.
It is therefore fitting that every year some of the biggest, brightest, loudest and most powerful boats in the world assemble to re-enact the famous race from Cowes to Torquay and back again.
After the overwhelming success of a new race format in 2013, which saw the fleet stopping in Torquay to an enthusiastic welcome, the organisers have agreed to run the race in two parts once again. An exciting change is also planned for the start at Cowes this year with the race returning to its roots.
In close consultation with the Royal Yachting Association (RYA), race organisers have worked hard to ensure the fans see an organised start closer to the shore.
In recent years the race start has not been accessible to the general public, and was held past Hurst Castle where only the most hardy boaties or passengers on the start boat could actually watch the action.
This year the race start returns to its birthplace in the Solent off the Royal Yacht Squadron at Cowes.
The start at Cowes provides excellent spectator opportunities at Egypt Point where the fleet will be accelerating on their way down the Solent.
Event director Dorian Griffith enthused: “I am thrilled that the start is back in Cowes.
“The British Powerboat Racing Club (BPRC) has demonstrated that it can run races safely, and their work with the RYA has enabled the return of the start of this world famous race to its rightful place in Cowes.
“This will give Cowes a massive boost as spectators can once again experience the largest gathering of ear-shattering, spine-tingling horsepower being used in anger on the water when the raceboats cross the start line on Sunday morning at 9am.”
Dawn in Cowes will break to the sound of roaring engines and activity on the water will be evident from approximately 8:45am when the racing fleet will muster to the east of the Cowes Harbour entrance.
Race boats will pass at speed in a convoy between Snowden and Trinity House buoys before starting the actual race immediately to the north of Gurnard Cardinal Buoy at 9am.
The fastest race boats should be approaching Berry Head by 10am and will continue on northward to a mark at the Ore Stone before turning and heading into the finish off Haldon Pier at Torquay.
Depending on the conditions, the fastest boats should appear back in the Solent at approximately 2.30pm for a finish off the Gurnard Cardinal Mark at Egypt Point.
The races form two parts of the RYA National Marathon Championship with the Cowes to Torquay being RYA National Marathon Championship (Heat 1) plus UIM International Ordinary Race.
The Torquay to Cowes being RYA National Marathon Championship (Heat 2) and UIM International Ordinary Race.