Powerboat GP blog

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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


Lowestoft GP – The story so far…

I don’t think there’s any way to start this other than by echoing what I heard from so many people in the pits after the day’s racing was finished. What a day! The weather couldn’t have been better for day 1 of the Lowestoft GP, and for the first couple of hours after I arrived in the pits I did as I always do and made a point of saying hi to anyone I had not yet seen. I love this time in the pits. People are busy, but normally not too busy to talk, and also they are generally quite relaxed. It gives some great opportunities for photographs that show a side to racing that a lot of people don’t often see: the sometimes qute delicate work that goes into preparing the boats, the bustling within the garages when the scrutineers turn up, and the routines that different people have and go through when preparing to race.DSC_8678

When the boats then hit the water for their qualifying session I had joined them on one of the safety boats stationed out around the course.  The course here is brilliant for photographers in a lot of ways, allowing plenty of access very close to the water.  The probelm is, from a photographers point of view, I always want to get the shot that no-one else got, and that means getting where no-one else is. Having gained permission from the Officer of the Day, Rescue Officer and Jetty Marshall, I donned my life jacket and we headed out to sit off the exit of the Wherry Turn.

Qualifying was great to watch, with drivers in all the classes giving it their all to try to claim pole position. Then when race time came around everybody was well and truly ready, and the calibre of racing was very high. The F4’s were the first class out and Ben Morse dominated the day, claiming pole by over a second from Rob Veares in qualifying and leading the race from lights to flag. George Elmore was equally dominant in the GT15 sessions, again taking both pole position and the win. GT30 qualifying was the most disrupted session of the day with two stappages, but at the end of it Tiegen Goodfellow came out on top with a cracking lap that put her first by 0.11s. Unfortunately for Tiegen she wasn’t able to maintain her position and she finished third behind Thomas Mantripp and Jonny Brewer.


The T850 class were the next on the water, and in qualifying it soon became clear that Jason Brewer’s boat was not the happiest it has ever been. The remaining three drivers fought hard amongst themselves for pole but it was Nigel Edwards who ultimately came out on top. Sadly when their race came, Nigel was unable to get away from the start pontoon and it was Bill Owen who crossed the line first, leading Steve Cash and Nigel. Nationally, LOBMBC is the home of the OSY class and it was great to see seven on these fantastic little boats on the water. Returning to the form set by the first two classes, the pole-sitter went on to take the victory, with a lead of over half a second in qualifying and a convincing win. The final boats in each session were the F2’s. Due to international commitments for some drivers the field was slightly depleted today, but the five drivers who were here put on a brilliant display of driving and in qualifying the boats in second to fourth were covered by a little over a third of a second. But it was Colin Jelf who claimed the top spot and later went on to convert this to a heat 1 win, I believe setting a lap record in the process.


So now we look to today, which for me will consist of pretty much the same again, only with possibly more frequent applications of sun cream. For the drivers, some are aiming to go out there and do it all again, repeating today’s performances. Others will have taken the evening to gather their thoughts, regroup, and will be going out there tomorrow to aim to improve on their points haul today.

The action on the water starts with free practice at 12pm at Nicholas Everitt Park, with Heats 2 and 3 following throughout the afternoon.

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

My “Not A Race Report” – Kingsbury GP

I love photographing at Kingsbury. In terms of vantage points there are few places I’ve been with as many options as Kingsbury. Where else can you, within a 3 metre radius, go from being sitting down almost at water-level to standing up roughly 3 metres above the water level, and in either position be less than 10 metres from the passing boats? The other selling point it has is that it isn’t actually that big to walk around, although next year I think I’ll take a bike (purely to get around faster).

DSC_7977On Saturday, the weather was, let’s say “changeable”, but this never deters anyone involved. Qualifying got underway and I soon began to feel like this could be a pivotal weekend in the season. In the GT15 boats, Thomas, Jonny and Harvey all looked quick and I felt it could have gone the way of any one of them. In the GT30’s it was also close at the front, with Jack Pickles making a welcome appearance in the top 3. The T850 pack showed just how much they enjoy racing around Kingsbury, putting in some very enthusiastic performances and showing plenty of boat bottoms, and the bolstered F4 pack were equally enthusiastic.

Being able to get so close to the water enables spectators to see the variety of lines the drivers use first hand. Sitting on the bank before the islands as the boats round the top turn, you can see really clearly the difference between the drivers who keep their line tight out of the turn and those who let their boat run out wide. Heading for the gap between the bank and the islands, the boats come close. Really close.

Kingsbury_20160703_51334For photographers I guess there are two main choices: set the shutter speed high and shoot the boats coming towards you, or set it low and pan with the boats as they pass. There are of course opportunities to experiment within these bounds, but at Kingsbury, either of these approaches should produce results to be pleased with.

The other thing that I noticed more at Kingsbury than I have anywhere before was the efforts the drivers take to stick as close as possible to their prefered line but at the same time avoid the prop-wash of the boat ahead. Watching the T850 boats in particular, the drivers were making constant adjustments to stay exactly where they wanted to be on the ever-changing surface of the water.

Kingsbury_20160703_50913The Kingsbury GP weekend was a good one, with strong performances in all classes. Thomas Mantripp won in the GT15’s, Bill Owen in the T850’s, Sam Whittle in the F4’s, and there was a hugely popular first National win for Tiegen Goodfellow in the GT30’s (who went on to receive the customary dunking…twice).

Kingsbury_20160703_51724.jpgNext we move on the Chasewater for the Cannock GP on the 16th/17th July. This piece of water has a long history of powerboat racing, and presents its own challenges for a photographer. The F2’s will be back, the drivers are hungry for more, and I can’t wait to get there.

Seconds out, Round Two…

I love the night before a race weekend. Sitting here in my living room, I am surrounded by lenses, memory cards, and the flashing lights of charging camera batteries, and the anticipation is building. For me, a race weekend is so much more than qualifying and three heats. As I write, most of the competitors are already at Carr Mill, and with the action on the water scheduled to start at 10am tomorrow, I am planning my arrival at the clubhouse for around 8am. This is one of my favourite times to shoot. The early morning light (weather dependant of course) and attention to detail that the teams exhibit in their tents can make for some really interesting compositions. It is also a time that allows for the more social element of my weekend.


During racing, the teams all tend to be very busy. The structure of the weekend means that once a particular class has been out on the water their boats are recovered to the pits, any necessary work is done to prepare for the next heat, and then there is often very little time before the boats have to be launched again. The early mornings are an opportunity to talk to people. A time when, in my experience, there is (a little) less pressure on.


Come 10am tomorrow, adrenaline levels will rise, noise levels will rise, and the woodland around Carr Mill Dam will echo with the sound of outboard motors as the competitors set about the task of establishing themselves at the right end of the jetty ahead of Heat 1. Carr Mill is a long way to travel for some people. So far that they only race there once a year. Others, race there month in month out. Will home advantage play a part? What role will the weather play in proceedings? Only time will tell I guess. I’m ready to find out.

Bring on the 2016 Powerboat GP Lancashire Grand Prix.


Local exposure for Lancashire Grand Prix

A lot of people are travelling a lot of miles this weekend for the Lancashire Grand Prix. Teams from all over the country will be heading north to Carr Mill Dam where they will all be vying for the top spot on the podium come Sunday afternoon. Officials have already started making that journey, arriving this afternoon to begin preparing the venue and building up to what promises to be a thrilling weekend.

Earlier today, the Powerboat GP “advance party” were joined at Lancashire Powerboat Racing Club by two of the series’ drivers and a film crew from Granada Reports, and the preparations were put on hold briefly whilst interviews were filmed.


Local F2 driver Matt Palfreyman and not-quite-so-local F4 driver Matt Wood gave up some of their own time and brought their boats along to provide the foreground against the picturesque, tree-lined banks of the lake. I wasn’t able to be there myself, but Tony was and he sent these images on to me, and I believe the piece will be aired on Granada Reports (ITV) at 6pm tomorrow.



Reasons to be testing…

One week from now the second chapter in the 2016 Powerboat GP National Championships will have been played out. Will the Lowestoft form-book remain in place and we see Tom, Ben, Sam and Colin extend their leads? Will ‘home advantage’play a part and we see local drivers topping the sheets? Powerboat racing is massively unpredictable, you only have to look at what happened to Team WNT F2’s Steve Hoult at Oulton Broad to see this. It’s always in the back of your mind – that there could be an accident – those risks are inherent in the sport, but very rarely do you expect it. And I’m certain that nobody expected Steve’s accident. But it just goes to show that anyone, even the reigning champion, can be caught out.

In preparation for next weekend’s Lancashire Grand Prix, a number of competitors made the trip to Carr Mill today to test. In total, five F2’s, three T850’s, three GT30’s and two GT15’s took to the water during the short time I was able to be there. Amongst them were Steve Hoult and his freshly repaired Molgaard F2, Matt Palfreyman and his newly liveried Moore F2 and the brother and sister GT15/GT30 team of Ethan and Tiegen Goodfellow.


Everyone had their own agenda for the test. For some people it was a first chance to run the boat in following repairs or servicing. For others it was an opportunity for the driver to familiarise themselves with the course and for the team to experiment with different set-ups. As I drove along Garswood Old Road towards LPRC’s clubhouse, Harvey Smith rounded the bottom turn and powered past me to begin another lap. The club was a hive of activity: boats were being sent out on short runs or doing practice starts, Matt Palfreyman was running his boat in on a test wheel at the bottom end of the jetty, Steve Hoult’s boat was being wheeled down the slipway and a host of other boats were being tinkered with.


There’s a different kind of pressure in the air at a test. Whereas at a race everyone has a pretty good idea of when their heats are and how much time they have to do things, in testing people are keen to maximise their time out on the water. If a job can be done without getting the boat out of the water, it will be.


I’m really getting excited for next weekend now. The Lancashire Grand Prix is always a great event and today’s turnout tells me that this year will be no exception. Whether you’re after a free family day out or fancied our VIP package which includes lunch, selected drinks and VIP viewing (£25/person, contact for more info) the 2016 Lancashire Grand Prix promises to be a thrilling way to kick off the bank holiday weekend.


Last year we witnessed some superb racing. This year we welcome some new faces and with one week to go are looking forward to getting our season off to a great start!

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