PORTSMOUTH is set to see a £250,000 boost when a high-octane speedboat racing festival hits its shores next week.
Thousands of people are expected to come out to watch the high-speed ThunderCat Racing on the Solent from July 9 to 10 – less than two weeks before Sir Ben Ainslie and his Portsmouth-based Land Rover BAR team prepare to compete in the America’s Cup World Series.
Twenty-one four-metre inflatable boats will reach speeds of 60mph as they compete in the ThunderCat Racing Championship.
Spectators will be treated to a family festival on Castle Field – complete with live music stages featuring local bands, children’s rides and a Formula One-style pit lane where they can meet teams and find out more about the boats.
The spectacle is sponsored by Portsmouth ocean racing legend Alan Priddy and his round-the-world powerboat side Team Britannia.
And music lovers will be treated to an evening concert on the Saturday night ahead of another day of water action.
Mr Priddy, who recently relaunched a multi-million-pound world record bid to circumnavigate the globe, said: ‘It’s a great to back a local event. Not only will there be the best of the best sportsmen battling on the water, there will be something for the whole family, including children’s rides, local bands, circus workshops, a motorbike stunt show and classic cars.’
Practice sessions take place at 11.30am on both days followed by races from midday.
A total of 40 competitors will go head-to-head in up to 10 heats of racing. All the points gained over the two days will prove vital in the championships, the final of which is in Gibraltar from October 14 to 16.
Saturday’s action will also see a concert kicking off for Southsea residents. Entry is by voluntary donation to the Around & Around charity. Gates open from 6.30pm with the music starting at 7.30pm.
The night ends at 10.30pm and racing resumes the next day.