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Balfour further extended his record by taking the RYA Powerboat GP 2014 British Championship title for a fifth time
After criss-crossing the Atlantic throughout 2014, the team were rewarded with the UK and USA double
Cornwall surf conditions for ThunderCat racers
GT15 Championship beckons for the young charger
A win at Newquay sealed the 2014 Championship
New championship for outboards, a River Marathon in Columbia

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22-Sep-14 16:20
Balfour further extended his record by taking the RYA Powerboat GP 2014 British Championship title for a fifth time
Chris Davies

Bedford Podium - Photo: Chris Davies

After first taking the F2 crown way back in 2003, Paul Balfour further extended his record by taking the RYA Powerboat GP 2014 British Championship title for a fifth time after he dominated proceedings at the Bedford Grand Prix. “It couldn’t have gone any better” he said as he climbed from his Tod Lamb built American sprint hull. “To win against the three times UIM F2 World Champion Colin Jelf proves I must be doing something right.”
Balfour, who had lead every lap of all three heats didn’t put a foot wrong, even though he had a huge advantage coming into the last round of the series, some fourteen points ahead of his closet rival Jelf. “With all the new Optimax engines there’s not much between each of us these days, which makes it more exciting for those watching from the shore. The only real issue I have had this season has been the race starts but we made a huge step forward at Chaswater where we redistributed the weight in the boat and it transformed my starts. All being well I will be back next year to defend the title.”
One driver who will once again try and stand in his way will be Colin Jelf. His final race weekend had been decimated by electrical issues. “I really thought we had a chance after getting pole position for the first heat” he said, “but a battery then alternator problem blighted my weekend. Then to top that off the steering started to play up in the final heat. To win this title you have to be consistent and Balfour got it right making no mistakes at all. He’s had a really good season, where his boat is suited to the smooth, tight twisting courses that we have run this year, then once he got some decent propellers he was really hard to catch.”
Ben Morse was another driver who was very hard to catch. Missing out on getting pole position at the opening round at the Lowestoft Grand Prix was the only point he had dropped in his all conquering season. “I’m made up with this result today” he said “it’s a hell of a lot gustier out there on the course than it looks, so to put a lap in two seconds quicker than anyone else out there was awesome and I couldn’t be happier.”
With conditions on the course becoming less predictable Morse had opted to put some more weight into his Molgaard hull just prior to the final heat and it certainly paid dividends as once again he stormed off into the lead. Coming home in second place in the third and final heat was Natalie Craddock, which gave her third overall on the day and a well deserved second place in the national championship. “Not bad for the first year” said Craddock. “It has been a good season and with different people on the podium it certainly mixed it up. I’m learning new things about the boat at every race meeting. Today we adjusted the steering and it felt like the boat was on rails when I put it into the turns. What a great way to end the season, getting second place through my own ability really matters.”
Third in the F4S Championship went to the vastly experienced Mike Pillow. “After my season was ruined with me finishing in eighth place at the Kingsbury Grand Prix I’m satisfied with third overall” said Pillow. “Big congratulations to Natalie, she, like Ben, finished well in every race throughout the season, so she thoroughly deservers it.”
In the OSY400 class it took the officials to count back through all the heat results to work out who had taken the top prize. In the end it went to James Bowman, even though it was Luke Hugman that had one on the day. “It’s been a long season for all those OSY competitors” said Bowman. We’ve been to the Worlds in Poland and the European’s in Nottingham. The international competition is very strong, plus we have had some technical problems along the way. At times it’s been very frustrating, so to win the national championship goes some way to making up for all of that. Next year I’m getting married plus we’re expecting our first child, so my priorities will be else where so I’m not sure whether I will be back to defend the title.” For Hugman it was a tough call. “It all came down to that second heat where I couldn’t get it off the start line” said Hugman. “I tried really hard to close the gap but only made it up to third which just wasn’t enough. I’m not that disappointed because I came here to prove a point and that was just how quick my boat is, two seconds a lap was beyond my wildest dreams.”
Thomas Mantripp knew all he had to do all weekend was to follow in the wake of Ben Jelf if he was to win his first ever GT15 British Championship title and that’s precisely what he did. Throughout the season Mantripp had held the advantage he gained at the Lowestoft Grand Prix and knew exactly how to play a tactical game. “I can’t put it into words” said the young man from the Oulton Broad club. “I just had to keep it the right way up and finish on the podium, sounds easy but with some of the opposition getting faster through the year it certainly wasn’t. I had to keep an eye on Smith because he had got quicker all weekend, he’s been working hard on his set up and it showed. As to whether he will be a threat next ‘Jelf free’ season I’m not so sure.” For Jelf it certainly had been a season of high’s and lows but he was happy with the result. “I wasn’t going to make it easy for him” said Jelf “Fair play to Mantripp if I was in his shoes I would have dome the same, I just hope he looks after my title.”
Third place in the GT15 Championship went to Jessica Beaumont, like Jelf, a perfect way to finish her GT15 career on a high note. “It was all about fighting for third place this season and I couldn’t have asked for more. Mantripp has worked hard for it and he deserves it. As to my future, I’m thinking of taking a year out of powerboat racing to start working with B.S.Motorsport because I really would like to become an motorsport engineer, then perhaps when I’m a little older I might look to race in the F4S Championship.”
Going a long way in making up for loosing his GT15 title to Mantripp was collecting the GT30 one instead, said Ben Jelf, although he wasn’t expecting to win it in his first season. “Three different boats in one year is a really tough way to do things” said Jelf. “We haven’t really had much time to test them either, but I have a great deal of faith in our team, after all they have been doing it a long while now.” 
Wayne Turner collected the trophy for the O/Hydro class with local Stewartby club member Nigel Edwards taking second place in the national championship.
In the T850 class Bill Owen finally, after nearly thirty years to trying, won the national championship title. “To say I’m a bit emotional is an understatement” said Owen. “To win it by count back was just incredible, because after the engine dropped to two cylinders in the final heat I thought I had blown my title chances.” He would eventually finish the day in fourth place which meant that once again the race officials had to delve into the records book to come up with a result. That meant that Matt Wood who was victorious on the day would take the runner up spot in the title hunt. 

“I never would have thought I’d finish in second place, especially in my first year of trying” said Wood. “I wanted to win here to show that Chasewater wasn’t a fluke and now the season has ended on a fabulous note, not just for me but all the competitors racing in the RYA Powerboat GP British Championship, bring on 2015, I can’t wait.” 

22-Sep-14 09:20
After criss-crossing the Atlantic throughout 2014, the team were rewarded with the UK and USA double
David Sewell

GD Enviromental - 2014 P1 Superstock Champions - Photo: Graham Stevens

The Welsh powerboat crew of James Norvill and Charlie Parsons-Young were celebrating a remarkable double yesterday as they topped the podium at the P1 St. Cloud Grand Prix of the Sea to win the P1 USA SuperStock race series just two weeks after being crowned UK champions.
The Newport-based duo have been criss-crossing the Atlantic all summer to compete in the two P1 championships and clinched the UK title in Gosport earlier this month with a clean sweep of victories on the Solent in their GD Environmental Services race boat. They went into the final round of the USA series with a slender three point lead at the top of the standings and consistent performances in the four races this weekend saw them extend that to six points to become double champions.
The battle for the USA national title was fought out on East Lake Toho in Florida and James knew that it would be a tense, exhilarating and possibly dramatic event: “This is one of my favourite race venues in the States and it’s also my lucky venue where I had my first USA victory last year. Typically the lake is flat and that suits me and Charlie. It’s a great feeling to win both championships.”     

James is having quite a year. Away from the water, he was named Institute of Directors’ Young Director of the Year in Wales in May and he has also been shortlisted for the UK-wide Young Director of the Year category, the result of which will be announced in London next month. So there could be yet more Welsh celebrations. 

21-Sep-14 16:50
Cornwall surf conditions for ThunderCat racers
John Moore

V-Tach Rob Nichols & Jon Puttick Photo: Tim Tapping


Kingfisher Fire & Security - Photo: Tim Tapping

20-Sep-14 19:22
GT15 Championship beckons for the young charger
Chris Davies

Mantripp on Course for GT15 Title - Photo: Chris Davies

As darkness descended upon Stewartby Lake several of the drivers are now just one step closer to collecting their National Championship titles as the RYA Powerboat GP 2014 British Championship draws to a conclusion at the Bedford Grand Prix.

Thomas Mantripp, who is looking to secure his first ever British GT15 Championship title, looked to have secured pole position but he was denied by Ben Jelf, who left it till his last lap before posting the fastest time of the day. Mantripp knew that a victory in heat one was not a priority although he must finish on the podium to claim the title.

“To make it less confusing we have only brought our latest boat here” said Mantripp. “Plus we have some new propellers from Dewald in America that have been fine turned especially for the class.” As the start lights went out Jelf hit the front with Mantripp in close proximity. Harvey Smith and Tiegan Goodfellow were fighting over third place and it was Smith, who had been doing a lot of propeller testing with Geoff Beard, who won that battle. With the race beginning to settle down Jelf comfortably extended his lead as Mantripp knew winning was not his objective. “Yes, it would have been nice to take the victory but it’s a risk I am not prepared to take this weekend” he said. As he came off the water Jelf was rather philosophical with the outcome, “it all comes down to the last heat but I’m realistic enough to know that I’m probably racing for second place in the championship. Mantripp still has to deliver, so the pressure is still on him, though I think him missing out on a podium place is highly unlikely.” Smith was more upbeat saying that this time last year he was being lapped by Jelf. “We still need to find that extra second to become truly competitive” said Smith “but with a bit more work over the winter I’m sure we can find it.”

With the F4S title already in his pocket many people thought that Ben Morse would be taking things slightly easier this weekend but any thoughts that his rivals would be collecting the chequered flag were soon dashed when he posted the fastest time in qualifying on only his third lap. Second on the grid went Sam Whittle, repeating his fine form that he recently showed at the final round of the UIM F4S World Championship.

In the first heat Morse soon took control “I couldn’t believe the start I made” he said “I don’t know where that came from. We have taken some weight out of the boat plus I have lost three kilos in body weight since we raced at Nottingham. Throughout this season we have been running some ten kilos over the minimum weight limit but we got a wake up call from the overseas competitors, so we had to put that right.”

Second place went to Whittle, who had been running the same set up as the one he ran in Nottingham. “In qualifying I was just a tenth of a second off Morse’s pole time” said Whittle “so that justified my thoughts of not changing anything. In the heat it wasn’t my best start, the engine firing into live can still be a bit of a lottery. I managed to catch everyone up by the first turn and then as we reached the second I kept a tight line because I could see that Mike Pillow was looking threatening.” Pillow would eventually finish some eighteen second behind Whittle but was happy with his day’s performance.

In the first heat of the OSY400 class Luke Hugman took the honours relegating the championship leader James Bowman into second place. 

Trying to secure his first T850 British Championship honour was Bill Owen, who started the day as most people’s favourite for the title. Those people who know him though soon realise that Owen likes doing things the hard way when it comes to the final rounds of the championship. Once again he would see his closest rival Matt Wood steal pole position from under him and then to make matters worse Owen suffered a steering failure in the opening heat. As he was trying to dive inside Nigel Edwards his boat hooked on a wake and the steering bolt sheared clean off. “I fluffed the start” said Owen, “this allowed both Wood and Edwards to pull out a slight lead on me. Then as I tried to cut inside Edwards the steering just went. At first I tried to control the boat by holding the steering cables but that didn’t work, looking back on it now I’m amazed I even thought that would work.” Wood took full advantage of the situation and scored a deceive victory in the first heat. “Throughout qualifying I didn’t think I had the pace to live with Owen. Then I tried a different line and posted the fastest lap. My top end speed has been awesome today and that has made all the difference, I just need to repeat that and I have done it before so I know how that feels.”

In the F2 class Paul Balfour is another driver that doesn’t need a victory here this weekend to secure the British Championship but try telling him that. “You put your helmet on, close the canopy, see the lights go out and just race” he said. In qualifying just there was less than a second covering the top four drivers with Colin Jelf at the top of the time sheets. As the pack headed for the first turn Balfour found himself out in front by two boat lengths from Jelf, his closet competitor was in fact Colin’s brother Owen, who was using the weekend as a last minute test session before heading off to Como in Italy for the F2 European Championships in just over a weeks time. With those two out in front Steve Hoult slotted into third place saying that he now felt his boat was back to the one he was so successful with last season. “It’s taken a long time to get things right” he said “but now I’m driving the boat rather than it driving me.”

As Balfour crossed the finish line he admitted that had there been a three or four boat ‘sandwich” at the first turn he might have driven things differently. “I’m not doing anything negative this weekend” he said “I’m trying to win it whilst not trying to bin it.”

Racing resumes tomorrow morning at Stewartby with several drivers still with something to prove.





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