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Comparato Comes Out Fighting
Sunday sees the 54th running of the historic event
Sheikh Hassan and Steve Curtis hit a stunning 244 mph in their turbine powered catamaran
The Arab-Anglo partnership has been very quiet lately but they are hoping the wait has been worthwhile

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31-Aug-14 00:16
Comparato Comes Out Fighting
John Moore

Comparato Comes Out Fighting Photo: Chris Davies

Article: Chris Davies

After taking maximum points at the previous F4S round held in Latvia, Alberto Comparato continued where he left off by taking twenty points in the first F4S race held at the National Watersports Centre, Nottingham, re-taking the lead in the UIM World Championship in the process.

The young Italian, racing in the UK for the first time, held off Sweden’s Jesper Forss in the twenty lap race, crossing the finish line just two seconds ahead of the Scandinavian driver. “In free practice this morning I almost took off in the cross winds” said Comparato, “my father had warned me about the tricky conditions, he raced F2 here, so we knew it could get interesting. That gave us a wake up call, so we altered the weight distribution and now the BaBa boat is perfectly balanced.”

Losing his lead in the title chase was the Latvian driver Nikita Lijcs; he had to settle for third place saying the pace at the front was just too quick for him today. Separating the two of them was Forss who had been very quick in the morning’s free practice. “My main aim this weekend is to take third place in the World Championship, so I had to weight up whether I tried harder to fight with Comparato or settle for seventeen points. I’m now only four points behind Adrian Maniewski, so as long as I put enough boats between him and me in tomorrow’s race then my target will be achieved.”

The top British driver was Ben Morse, who finished in fifth place. Starting alongside him on the grid was Sam Whittle, who had put in a stunning time in the morning qualifying session. Whittle knew that the race would be a different matter though, so was more than happy when he finished in sixth place, “I kept in touch with Morse for about ten laps, then he just pulled away from me” said Whittle “for my first international race to be second British driver home has given me such a buzz.”

In the first heat of the GT15 European Championship, Latvian Uvis Lazarenoks took maximum points in a race that was virtually decided in the opening lap. Pole position driver Stefan Arand failed to get off the line leaving Lazarenoks with clear water as the pack headed for the first turn. Also failing to get off the line was Britain’s Ben Jelf, a seal on the carburettor had failed flooding his engine. Jelf finally managed to get going and would eventually finish in eighth place, leaving him with a tough battle on his hands if he’s going to capture his third GT15 European Championship title. Just ahead of him was Thomas Mantripp, who had seen off several attempts by various drivers trying to get past him. “Towards the end of the race I was having a great race with Rene Suuk until he pushed me wide” said Mantripp. “In doing that we were eventually past by a couple of other drivers, including the pole man Arand.” 

With the wash coming back from the concrete bank that line the course it was fast becoming a very physical race, which soon began to take its toll on the younger drivers. “I play ice hockey every week in Latvia” said the heat winner Lazarenoks, “this was so much harder today.”

After his disappointing GT15 heat, Ben Jelf then went out and put in a dominate performance in the GT30 category, finishing over five seconds ahead of the Polish driver Marcin Szymczyk. “I made a really good start as the red lights went out” said Jelf, “but I nearly threw it all away as I approached the first turn. Szymczyk was just ahead of me and I had planned to go wide in an attempt to pass him but my boat hooked as I had too much speed.” Luckily for Jelf he salvaged the situation and soon caught and past the Polish driver. “Lap after lap I could see him in my mirrors, he would try to get the inside line as we approached the turn buoys but I kept him where I wanted him.” 

Charlotte Newton was having a frustrating day when after making a good start she was held up by Aivar Kommisaar from Estonia. “He was slightly quicker than me on the straight but every time he took the turns he just got bogged down which meant I had to back off or I would have landed on top of him” she said.

Also having a frustrating day was the reigning GT30 World Champion, Sara Pakalen from Finland. The team had discovered a faulty fuel pump after the qualifying session which was quickly replaced. Then a loose wire on the ignition coil left her stranded on the start pontoon. “I tried to start the race because I thought we could maybe pick up some points” said Pakalen “but then I realised it wasn’t going to happen. Hopefully tomorrow we would have fixed all the problems.”

One reigning World Champion certainly not having any issues was Rasmus Haugasmagi from Estonia. Making only his second visit to the UK since he raced JT250 back in 2009, he said that the morning’s qualification in the OSY400 class was the hardest part of the day because he closet rival Cezary Strunnik was very quick. He had tested two propellers and opted to use one that would give him better acceleration rather than top speed because he knew his best chance of success would be if he got in front of Strunnik at the start. This is precisely what he did, as by the half way point the Estonian had already pulled out a two boat lead on the chasing pack. After six laps he was almost eight seconds clear and took the chequered flag in convincing style. “Our club was won four World Championship titles in a row now, I just get the feeling that we must be doing something right with the way we build our carbon fibre boats” said Haugasmagi. 

Luke Hugman was the highest place British driver coming home in fifth place and admitted that he couldn’t have done anything more. “I was holding Marcinkus who finished in fourth place for three laps and that was hard enough” said Hugman. “Everyone was going wide around the marks but having raced at Oulton Broad I know how to kiss the turn buoys. There’s only so much you can do before it gets dangerous, tomorrows another day and so let’s see how we get on.”

28-Aug-14 09:14
Sunday sees the 54th running of the historic event
John Moore

Glenn Chidzoy's UIM Marathon Class B entry Flyin' Falcon being prepared for this weekend

Article: Geoff Davies / Cowes Classic 2014 Media Team

With the 2014 Cowes Torquay Race now just a few days away the teams are working tirelessly, many burning the midnight oil, to ensure boats and crews are up to the rigours of the World’s Toughest Offshore Powerboat Race.

This year sees Mette Bjerknes from Norway make her debut in the Cowes Classic as co-driver in the thirty eight foot Fountain ‘Blastoff’ driven by Dorian Griffith.

Having won the UIM World Circuit Endurance Championship this year , Mette is a racer through and through. Her usual boat can accelerate from zero to 100km/hr in 3.5 seconds; out accelerating many of the fastest race cars. She will swap (temporarily) the single seat in her Formula Two tunnel, powered by a two hundred and ten horsepower Mercury outboard engine, for the co-driver’s seat in the much larger and more powerful boat. Used to just a quarter of the horsepower of the Fountain, she will no doubt enjoy making full use of Blastoff’s eight hundred and eighty horsepower on the extreme journey to  Torquay and back.

The transition from one type of boat to another would be the equivalent of getting out of a Formula One Race Car and stepping into a Baha Off-Road Race Truck.  The contrast; between a super refined but fast cornering flat water boat, to a rough, tough, brutal wave crusher which can take anything the open sea can throw at it.

Her race preparation was complicated when Mette had an accident in her F2 tunnel over the Bank Holiday Weekend while racing in Norway. Fortunately she survived unscathed and assures us it will not hinder her preparation for this weekend’s race. She arrives at Heathrow on Friday afternoon; determined and ready to race. Mette is one tough competitor, so guys watch out. She’s incredibly capable and focused on making her mark and we’re very lucky to have her in the Cowes Classic for 2014.

We talked briefly to Fiona Pascoe the Team Manager for the race winning Microlink PC’s 'Fury' driven by Vee Ganjavian and Gareth Williams. She said, “We’re going to give it a good go, but unfortunately due to circumstance the boat will be put in the water for the first time this year on Friday. I hope Lady Luck is in our team because we might need her.”

Chris Dodge’s team of ‘Smokin Aces’ tested their boat on Sunday, only to realise how much damage had been done to the boat in last year’s race. They found a host of problems with the engines and drives, so the team is lucky to have the services of Nick Barsch. He managed to rebuild two crash gearboxes and the manifolds on the engine, the gimbal on a mark six drive, and install re-calibrated Herring propellers.

“All looks good and we’re looking forward to the race this weekend,” Chris Dodge told us once the work was completed.

Preben Sørensen from Norway is bringing his Predator 337 Super Sport to Cowes

Another competitor is ‘Flyin Falcon’ the Apache 42 whose owner Glenn Chidzoy resides and works in Antibes in the south of France. Glenn has such a passion for the Cowes Classic that he’s had his team working round the clock to re engine the Apache despite the dreadful weather which only England can produce. He has raced at every Cowes event since 2008. His team for 2014 will consist of Daryl Grady from the USA, Ole Finholt from Norway and John Guille from the Isle of Sark in Guernsey.

When we asked John Guille how the team was going with their preparation, he replied, “We’ve installed new motors, and yesterday we got her up to power under load, but hey, it’s not the best speed, but we’re confident we can keep it going.”

Another Norwegian Team appearing for the first time this year is the Predator Boats Team with Preben Sørensen driving and Andre Bakkegaard as the co-driver. This race has always attracted an international field of racers so it’s great to see this very competitive team make the effort to take part.

With several days left before the weekend we hear that many teams are further enhancing and adjusting their boats to eke any final small gains from the boat and crew combination.

Race day should dawn fine and clear according to, with a forecast for a northerly of about 3 to five knots with a wave height of just under a metre. The weather for spectators will be fine with just a cloud or two and maybe an early shower. The temperature should be a degree or two above the average at about 21 degrees.

The race is scheduled to start at 9.00am off Egypt Point, Cowes. The race boats will line up at 8.45am then 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 09:00am.

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.

At Torquay the boats will form up and parade past Haldon Pier at 01.00pm before lining up for the race start back to Cowes at 01.30pm.

Depending on the conditions the fastest boats should appear back in the Solent at approximately 02.30pm for a finish off the Gurnard Cardinal Mark at Egypt Point.

The boats will be located at the wet pits at each end of the race course and excellent viewing opportunities will be available for spectators. There’s nothing like the sound and sight of some of the most powerful boats in the world roaring at full speed, and this year the public have another great opportunity to take to the hills above Torquay Bay and experience it for themselves.

The drivers are as keen as ever to meet with their fans and will be available on both Haldon Pier and Cowes above the wet pits to answer questions and share their stories. To ensure safety there will not be public access down on the pontoon itself.

For those who can’t make it to watch the race Yellow Brick Tracking will once again be providing live updates from the boats themselves so you can watch the progress of the race from wherever you may be. The Android or iPhone App are available here:

You can also link to the Yellow Brick tracking via the official Cowes Torquay website:




*Note: Some of these links will not be operational until 2/3 days before the race

27-Aug-14 19:28
Chris Davies

Girl Power Photo: Chris Davies

Building on the success of the last two year’s of international powerboat racing championship events, Powerboat GP has once again organised a mouth watering prospect for circuit race fans in the shape of the GT15 and GT30 European Championships, the final round of the F4S World Championships, along with the OSY400 European Championships. In fact over forty five different teams from around Europe and Scandinavia will arrive at the National Watersports Centre, Nottingham on August 30 and 31 to battle it out on the water.

As the record book shows it certainly won’t be a weekend of male dominated podium presentations, because starting as favourite to win the GT30 category will be Sara Pakalen from Finland. Pakalen, who started racing at the age of twelve in the SJ15 class, took the gold medal at the GT30 World Championships, which took place in Miedzyrzec, Poland earlier this year and will be a strong contender for a podium place come Sunday night. 

Amongst the strong British entry hoping to thwart her challenge will be Charlotte Newton and Jessica Stoneman. Newton currently sits third overall in the national championship standing and is excited at the prospect of racing a truly international field. “Although you never really know what to expect, I do like meeting the other racers from the different countries” she said. “You can learn so much by watching their racing lines around the course. What ever happens I’m planning to enjoy myself and to go out and do us proud.”

Stoneman meanwhile has experienced all this before when she went to the GT30 World Championship twelve months ago in Berlin. That time she took a superb sixth place in a highly competitive field and actually finished five places ahead of Pakalen on that occasion. Having recently secured the 2014 British Sprint Championship title she is in a very positive mood about this weekends racing, although she admits that the prospect of finishing it covered in bruises is one she’s not looking forward to, “but it will all be worth it in the end” she said.

With close to twenty entries in the GT15 Championship team-mates Tiegan Goodfellow and Jessica Beaumont both know that with so many drivers on the tight course it's going to be challenging to maintain their positions in the race. “Qualifying is going to be extremely important at Nottingham, as the advantage it gives us as we race to the top buoy will be dramatic” said Beaumont. “However, team tactics and a good racing strategy should allow us to make up positions in the race if qualifying isn't what we had hoped for.” 

Her team-mate Goodfellow is hopping to do better than she did this time last year, when Nottingham hosted the World Championships. “It was my first ever international GT15 event and I was really nervous. In the third heat my boat split and it took on water, I finished an unlucky thirteenth overall that weekend.” Her biggest concern this year will be the gusty wind conditions that can make the four hundred and fifty metre straight a tricky place to hold your racing line. “It could be a challenge again this year but this time I’m ready for anything” said Goodfellow. “GB racing will be competing together for the first time as a team and not only will we be looking to put in a great performance; we will also be showing what girl power is all about.”

The third European Championship title to be decided will be for the OSY400 class, where Britain’s Luke Hugman and James Bowman will be pitting their racing skills against the likes of Rasmus Haugasmagi from Estonia and Miroslav Bazinsky from Slovakia, who they last met in Poland back in June.

After ‘double-header’ races in France, Italy and Latvia, Nottingham will also provide the climax to the UIM F4S World Championship and it couldn’t be tighter at the top. Just two points separate Latvia’s Nikita Lijcs and Italy’s Alberto Comparato, whose father Fabio finished in second place on the podium some eighteen years ago, when Nottingham hosted a round of the UIM Formula 2 European Championship. 

Although the F4S National Championship has all been wrapped up by Ben Morse, it’s just as tight at the top for the runners-up position and that’s currently being held by Natalie Craddock, who this season has visited the podium on three out of four occasions. 

Like her fellow countrymen, she is really looking forward to racing at Nottingham although Craddock admits to being a little anxious as well. “As it’s my first year of competing in F4S, I really didn’t think I would have been racing in a round of the World Championship, it’s certainly going to be a great learning curve for me.” For Craddock it also offers her the chance to gauge herself against some of the worlds best drivers in this class, “maybe I can learn a few new things from them that will help me in the national championship” she said. “I am really proud to not only say I’m going to be representing Great Britain but also to be the only girl from the UK in the F4S class. It’s really lovely to see so many girls racing across all the classes these days and I can’t wait to cheer them on as well as the rest of the drivers from the UK.”

Powerboat GP’s Jason Brewer commented: “We are extremely proud to host an event of this magnitude in the UK. All of the Powerboat GP staff have worked very hard to make this event happen and we are looking forward the challenge ahead.”

He continued: “Powerboat Racing is so exhilarating to watch. The action is fast and furious and what better place to watch it than the fantastic facilities at the National Water Sports Centre where you’ll be able to get up close and personal with all the action that kicks off from 09:30 on Saturday morning.”

27-Aug-14 07:57
David Sewell

"Outerlimits Offshore Powerboat Company President / CEO and Founder Michael Fiore passed away this evening from injuries sustained during a boating event in Missouri over the weekend. Mr. Fiore, age 44 of Bristol, RI developed complications from surgery when he died at University Hospital in Missouri.

The entire Outerlimits family is devastated by the loss of our friend and leader of our company.

Mike's love for high speed boating was only out matched by the love for his wife, three young children and his family.

Details on arrangements will be made and released in the coming days, and in the meantime we hope all understand the family's need to grieve for their loss privately," said Frank Sciacca, General Counsel of Outerlimits Offshore Powerboat Company.




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