Defence giants race head to head on the water

TECH The BAE Schemers - led by Tobias McCool, left
TECH The BAE Schemers - led by Tobias McCool, left
HMS Victory and the Mary Rose Museum from the air     Picture: Shaun Roster

‘Nowhere in Europe offers everything Portsmouth does’

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HEAVYWEIGHTS in the defence industry raced powerboats across the water in Gosport yesterday – using remote controls from the side of the biggest indoor water basin in Europe.

The 17 teams raced boats, which they had built, at Qinetiq’s Ocean Basin, in Haslar Road, Gosport, tackling a course with sharp corners, and testing handling skills to avoid flipping the boats.

The event included teams from defence and engineering companies BAE Systems, Babcock International and BMT, along with the Royal Navy and University College London.

The Big Blue team from Babcock in Rosyth was formed of apprentices who will help build future aircraft carriers.

The team was run by second-year apprentices Andrew Letham, 23, and Chris Farrell, 24, who were passing on their experiences from last year to new apprentices David Campbell, 22, and Ross Brewster, 19.

Andrew said: ‘We were here last year and we came second last. This time we’re aiming for the middle out of all the teams.

‘It’s the same boat as last year – we built it in six weeks at our on-site college campus.

‘We sank it in testing – probably the biggest thing we’ve learnt is time management.’

Big Blue did not come top, with the Flipper 2 team from BMT wining the day.

Underneath all the adrenaline and friendly competition, the event had a practical side.

Sarah Kenny, managing director of Qinetiq Maritime, who stationed herself at the side of the basin to launch boats for the races, emphasised the educational aspect.

She said: ‘All this looks like a lot of fun but here you’re seeing novel designs by some of the people who will design future naval platforms.’