The opening round of the 2014 P1 SuperStock and P1 AquaX Championships in Bournemouth brought the coastal waters of the famous resort town to life ‘Feel the power’. ‘Fast, furious and fun.’ ‘Festival of power rides into town’. These were some of the headlines that appeared in the local media as P1 prepared to head to the Dorset coast for the opening UK race event of the season, the Bournemouth Grand Prix of the Sea.
A fleet of ten P1 Panther race boats and more than forty personal watercraft racers took to the water close to the famous pier to serve up a feast of free-to-watch sport and entertainment for local residents and visitors to enjoy.
This was P1’s first visit to the resort town and the growth and quality of its free events programme played a major role in P1 selecting it to host the season opener. Jon Weaver, marketing and events manager at Bournemouth Tourism, was delighted to have P1 joining the town’s top class events line-up: “We have a superb amphitheatre setting for spectators to watch the double bill of powerboat and jet ski racing from the cliff top, beach and pier, and having our Bournemouth-branded race boat competing in the national championship is an added attraction.”
P1 chief operating officer Robert Wicks commented: “Bournemouth was recently named ‘Best UK Coastal Resort at the British Travel Awards, making it an exciting new venue on our UK race calendar. Our partnership with the Bournemouth Coastal Business Improvement District (BID) is a key element of our wider event strategy. I am confident that our race weekend introduced a new range of visitors to all that Bournemouth has to offer and helped to boost trade and increase footfall in the town.”
From their base at Salterns Marina in Poole, the SuperStock teams raced close to the pier where spectators jostled for the best vantage point to cheer on the eye-catching Team Bournemouth race boat, crewed by the Hampshire-based husband and wife pairing of Stuart and Sara Cureton. The Curetons clinched a podium place at the end of the weekend, but it was the boys from Buckinghamshire, Nick Williams and Martin Robinson of IFX Racing, who made the headlines with a clean sweep of victories in all three races.
“We had a fantastic opening weekend” enthused Williams. “This elusive first Grand Prix victory has been a long time coming for us and is the result of a lot of hard work and testing with the boat over the winter…and there’s more work to be done.”
‘Catch us if you can’ is the clear message from the IFX duo and one which the second placed Pertemps team of John Wilson and Daisy ‘Duke’ Coleman are sure to respond to at the next round. Seasoned international racer Miles Jennings and new co-pilot Kevin Hunt in the Typhoo-sponsored boat put in an impressive performance and only narrowly missed out on a podium place.
The surprise winner in the AquaX 300 class was debutant Phil Pope, with Steve Hockney and Mat Shipley taking the honours in the other two classes and Damien Evans lifting the Rookie Cup. Pope’s consistent performances over the two days – one race win and two second place finishes – have marked him out as the man to watch in this year’s five-venue series. Pope takes a seven point lead into the next race but has the experienced trio of Tim Batte, Richard Cable and Jim Goodchild – all on Kawasaki skis – hot on his heels.
The local press coverage following the racing talked about the ‘pulling power’ of the event, about ‘crowds flocking to watch the racing’ and, of course, ‘the Bournemouth boat grabbing a podium spot’. It will be interesting to see who makes the headlines at the next round as the action moves to the Humber estuary later this month.
COASTAL BID PLAYS KEY ROLE
Instrumental in attracting the P1 Grand Prix of the Sea to Bournemouth was the Coastal BID (Business Improvement District), which represents businesses within its operating area with the aim of increasing the number of people visiting Bournemouth, persuading them to stay longer, explore more of the unique coastal strip and spend more in local shops, pubs, restaurants and cafes. Over its five year term the BID will invest around £3 million in improving the business opportunities in its area.
Des Simmons (pictured), Chair of the Coastal BID, said: “We are delighted to have been involved in bringing this prestigious event to Bournemouth. Good quality events are a key motivator for encouraging people to visit and stay in the town. We believe that Bournemouth is Britain’s most eventful coastal resort and are keen to play our part in helping to enhance the reputation.”
Coastal BID Manager, Alun Williams added: “The competitive, close-to-shore racing provided a great spectacle for spectators on the beach, overcliff and pier, and we all enjoyed seeing our own Bournemouth boat finish on the podium. We wish the team well in the remaining four rounds of the championship across the summer.”