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Lowestoft GP – The Sea Mist Cometh

For me it was a late start by the water on Monday. Software issues on Sunday night meant that I was delayed looking at the days photographs, so after breakfast it was back to my room so I could at least get qualifying processed before heading back to the water.
When I arrived I arranged this time to be dropped off on a jetty on the far side so I could get a slightly different view of the boats exiting the Wherry Turn. Following a brief free practice session for each class, and the realignment of the start jetty after the increasing winds had blown it out of position, the F4 drivers lined their boats up ready to get the second round of heats underway. Around this time, the weather was beginning to turn as the fresher winds blew the clouds overhead. It was considerably cooler than Sunday, and I was starting to regret paying the forecast so little attention.

The F4 race went off without serious incident with all seven starters finishing in an almost exact copy of Heat 1’s result. Ben Jelf showed just how hard he was pushing to close the gap to Rob Veares when he spun coming out of the Wherry Turn, but it was another dominant performance by Ben Morse that saw him take maximum points so far.

The drivers in the next class, GT15, never cease to amaze me. Talking to them in the pits, they all show such levels of maturity and a love of what they’re doing. The form set on Sunday continued into Monday, with George Elmore taking Heat 2 ahead of Harvey Smith and Aiden Fleet. I also can’t take anything away from Ethan Goodfellow or Joseph and Jessica Haylock. All these young drivers drove brilliantly all weekend, but it was what happened after the chequered flag dropped that really made an impression. At some point George had spotted me on the far bank. There was no reason for him to be looking to where I was but he did, and following his win he looked straight down my lens and gave me a celebratory wave. A classy touch from such a young man.


The GT30’s went on to provide some of the hardest-fought racing of the weekend as Thomas Mantripp and Jonathan (Jono) Brewer battled it out for the top spot and Tiegen Goodfellow and Jack Pickles fought over third and fourth. Ultimately, Monday’s races went one a piece to Thomas and Jono while the battle between Tiegen and Jack went Jack’s way both times despite Tiegen’s best efforts.


Bill Owen continued his winning form in the T850 class, but it was Nigel Edwards who took the second spot on the second day of racing with Steve Cash third in Heat 2 and unfortunately failing to finish Heat 3.


The OSY class, with seven entires, also provided some great racing over the weekend. Brian Shulver, having switched to the class this year, was clearly loving every minute of racing this new class, and the last time I saw Bexley Nunn racing he was in a GT30. He too seemed very comfortable racing in this very different category. The weekend belonged to James Marr though, who continued his streak of lights to flag victories.


The final second heat, for the F2’s, went off without incident but then throughout the afternoon, a patchy sea mist rolled in from the coast and there were a number of occassions where Heat 3 starts had to be delayed because visibility was deemed to be too poor. I even heard locals saying they had never seen it roll in and sit over the broads they way it was doing. Prior to their lining up, there was talk of sending one of the F2 drivers out on a sighting lap to establish how suitable the conditions were. It was decided though that this would not be neccessary and when the Officer of the Day spotted a gap in the mist he gave the intruction for the boats to line up on the pontoon. In a repeat of the weekend’s previous results, Colin Jelf converted his pole position into another win, albeit over a shortened race distance as the combination of mist and lingering boat exhausts caused the race to be cut short on safety grounds. An impressive drive from Mark Williams saw him hold off Paul Balfour and take second in both Heats 2 and 3, with local driver Ray Birnie coming home fourth. Unfortunatly Steve Hoult suffered a mechanical issue with his new Molgaard and was unable to compete in the day’s heats.


From here, we now look forward to heading Stewartby in a little over a month. On the weekend of the 1st and 2nd of July we will be hosting a round of the F4 World Championships and the GT30, F125 and F250 European Champonships. This promises to be yet another weekend of action, with competitors from around the world descending on Bedfordshire, and a host of British drivers joining the fray too.

We hope to see you there, and in the meantime, keep up to date on our Facebook page and by continuing to read (and like) our blog.

Bryan – Powerboat GP Photographer


Newcomers Join The Party

For me, the Lancashire GP was a brilliant way to kick off the season. The racing was great, it was fantastic to see OSY’s racing round Carr Mill again, and the overall atmosphere of the event was exactly what you want for the first race of the year. The biggest and nicest surprise for me though, came in the form of the number of new or returning drivers that were taking part.


The GT15 fleet was boosted by the arrival of Jessica Haylock and Caleb Jelf, both of whom certainly proved their worth over the course of the weekend, and the GT30 field was increased even more as Ralph White, Jayme Speller and Andy Cousins entered the mix. Newcomer to the series, Brad Holman complimented the OSY field, and the F4 field was the largest we’ve seen in recent years thanks to the arrivals of Martin Wood, John Donnelly, Ray Read, and the return of Mike Pillow.


One thing that was obvious during the races was that everyone, regardless of their experience competing at national level, gave their all out on the water. The action was fast, sometimes frantic and occasionally frenzied, and the spectators on the banks and up at the clubhouse were treated to a brilliant display by all six classes.


From a personal perspective, I took the opportunity to try out some new equipment, with varying results, but sometimes you have no alternative but to try things out “in the field” as it were. As I’m sure all the drivers will agree, you can test all you like but there’s no real substitute for getting out there in the thick of it to put your equipment through it’s paces.

So our attention turns now to the Lowestoft GP which will be wrapping up a week from now. Lowestoft & Oulton Broad Motor Boat Club (or LOBMBC, the world’s oldest motorboat racing venue) has seen bumper fields this season for their regular Thursday night race meetings, and with their large spectator area and great location this coming weekend has everything set to provide two great days of racing and family entertainment.

The action takes place on Sunday and Monday at LOBMBC, Nicholas Everitt Park in Lowestoft. If you haven’t done so before, come down and see what we’re all about – and feel free to say hello if you see me about!


Powerboat GP Photographer

A Change In Focus…

One event. Two days. Three heats. The outcome? The crowning of the 2016 Powerboat GP Sprint Champions. On Saturday morning, the boats from as many as five classes will take to the water to determine their grid positions for Heat 1.


The Sprint Championship weekend is always a great one. This will be my sixth one, and every year it is one of my highlights. There is something different about the atmosphere at the Sprints. It is an event with a long history that commemorates drivers we have lost over the years, and that fact sticks with everyone throughout the weekend, but in a positive way. The good times are remembered and more are had, and there is often very much a party feel, with the social aspect of racing being high on the agenda.


That said, the Sprints are also an opportunity for those who’s National Championship hopes may be dwindling to make their mark. At Sunday afternoon’s prize giving, the Sprint Champions will be crowned for each of the competing classes. This event stands completely separate from the National Championship, meaning that right from Saturday morning, each and every driver will be setting out with one target in sight, and with all eyes on the prize, the racing promises to be close and hard, as we have already seen this year.


This weekend, there won’t be a “Focus On” following particular teams or drivers. In stead, the focus will be on the event itself. There are so many drivers showing potential this year, and as we have already seen, in powerboat racing anything can happen. So watch this space this weekend, because when people start making waves at the Sprint Championship, the Powerboat GP blog will be all over it.


My preparation for the Sprint championship at Stewartby.

With just a few days to go until the Sprints at Stewartby Lake,I`m just begining to get myself prepared.066 copy

As a keen photographer I want to make sure thatI don`t miss a chance of a good photo through any of my camera equipment not being checked over,this has happened in the past ,amidst much swearing and cursing,but we all learn by our mistakes.

As I have a race meeting at my local course,Oulton Broad on Thursday evening the batteries(I always carry at least 1 spare) and sd cards cannot be recharged and cleared until Friday evening.However I will make sure my lenses are clean and ready and that my Canon Eos 70d is free from dust and dirt.After charging the batteries and putting Thursday`sphotos onto my laptop,Ill make sure everything is packed and ready for Saturday.051

Although I have been visiting Stewartby for more years than I care to remember,I still try to think of any different spots around the course that can provide a new view of the racing.It`s so easy to stay in the same spot all the time and get the same shots.This is where advice from other photographers comes in useful.

So I`m hopefull ,as always of getting a few good photos,on average I will take 1500 -2000 mover the weekend.It should be an interesting and fun couple of days.

Bob H

Focus On… Jack Pickles – TopCat Racing GT30

So Jack’s dreams of scoring his first ever National podium came true last weekend. Some of the closest racing of the weekend came from the GT30 class, and Jack found himself frequently embattled with Thomas Mantripp.

Jack’s boat clearly has the pace to mix it up towards the front of the field, and at Chasewater Jack showed that he has the racecraft to match. His lines were good, and he held his own. If anyone wanted to pass him, Jack was going to make them work for it, and Jack also put together a couple of beautifully times moves to pass people on his was to third overall.

Cannock_20160717_54826Jack’s dad tells me he has a “Breakfast of champions”… In less than two weeks we will all be heading to Stewartby for the one-off Sprint Championship weekend. Will Jack continue his charge towards the front?

My “Not A Race Report” – Cannock GP

For the third year running, Powerboat GP returned last weekend to Chasewater Watersports Centre for this year’s Cannock GP. Steeped in history, this venue saw three more heats of GT15, GT30, F4 and F2 racing (no T850’s as it was one of the two weekends racing is permitted on Windermere) take place over the two days.

Cannock_20160716_51765Chasewater is one of those places where a long lens is really useful. On Saturday, I headed down on to the dam. The sky was dark and the air was damp, not the most conducive to good photo’s, but I wanted to see what the head on view was like as the boats passed the pits approached the first turn. Later in the day I headed back to the pits and focused my attention on using what little light there was to best effect, getting some fast panning shots as the boats passed at pretty much the closest part of the lap to the shore.

Cannock_20160716_51883Sunday was a different ball game. The sky was blue and it was all together a much better day for photo’s. In fact, it was hard to believe that these were two consecutive days. What was consistent over the two days was the quality of the racing. Right across the range of classes the racing was close, hard and fair. Some of the locations I have shot from in previous years were inaccessible due to the high water level, but I managed to find some equally good (or in one case I think better) alternatives to see Thomas (GT15), Ben (GT30), Sam (F4) and Paul (F2) take their overall weekend victories, and also I feel Jack Pickles deserves a mention for his first ever National round podium finish.

Cannock_20160717_55255Powerboat GP head to Stewartby Lake near Bedford next – the final venue of the season but there are still three events to run. The first of these is the Sprint Championship on the 6th & 7th August. It’s all to play for at this stand alone championship event. Why not come along to see who will be crowned 2016 Powerboat GP Sprint Champion?

Focus On… Jack Pickles – TopCat Racing GT30

A couple of days ago, Jack told me he wanted to score his first podium this weekend. He moved a step closer to that goal with his performance today, in fact you could say three steps closer, as the GT30’s had their qualifying and first two heats today, leaving only one race for them tomorrow.

With a great effort in qualifying, Jack managed to claim third on the grid behind Ben and Tiegen, and managed to keep his position through race one. Heat 2 looked like it was going to be a different story though. As the lights went out and the boats took off from the start pontoon, Jack’s boat remained there for several seconds before he managed to get it going. What followed was, in Jack’s own words, “The best race I’ve ever done.” Over the first two laps, Jack managed to chase down and pass Nigel and Tony, and then the task was to reel in Thomas.

Watching from the timing tent, I could see the gap closing, them, right in front of the crowded pit area, Jack made his move. Coming in to the final turn, Jack positioned his boat perfectly, giving himself a run up the inside and the best line into the first corner.

Cannock_20160716_53457“I promised myself I’d keep going straight this weekend. If anyone wanted to pass me, they’d have to work for it,” he told me after the race. “Once I had passed Thomas, I just tried to keep my lines as tight as possible so as not to give him any chances.”

Cannock_20160716_53528So that’s two thirds for Jack so far at the Cannock GP, and he’s well on his way to his target. What can he do today? Why not come along and see for yourselves?

Focus On… Osprey Powerboat Rescue Team 

The day starts early for the Ospreys. Not only are they responsible for rescue duties during racing, but before any boats can go out on the water Osprey need to set the turnbuoys. 

Following this, the begin to set the boats up. They cover the course using two drop-front boats, each of which must carry exactly the same medical equipment. 

One the boats are ready, it is then the turn of the crew themselves to ensure they have all their gear on board. This is a slick, well-drilled process, and having got to know a few of them over time I can see that as much as they like a laugh, they know whilst wearing the Osprey babe they have one job  and one job only. 
The GT30’s are launching for qualifying as I write, and Osprey are on station. The last thing I’ll hear on my radio before the competitors head out  will be the words “Safety Officer to OOD (Officer of the Day), water is clear.”

Focus On… Jack Pickles – TopCat Racing GT30

Day one of the Cannock GP is here and driver’s briefing has just ended. I grabbed a quick word with Jack whilst his boat was being scrutineered. 

He’s really excited for today, and looking forward to hopefully making up list ground from the start of the season. There’s a moderate breeze blowing across the water, whipping up a few waves which Jack feels will help his cause – he feels confident on rough water.

In a little over 20 minutes, Jack and his fellow GT30 competitors will take to the water for the first of this weekend’s qualifying sessions and I feel an air of confidence from every driver I’ve spoken to so far. This one, is going to be good. 

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