Powerboats raring to go as grand prix of sea comes to Gosport

The Powerboat P1 series is having its finale in Gosport ''Picture: Roy Mantle
The Powerboat P1 series is having its finale in Gosport ''Picture: Roy Mantle

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Shooting along the Solent, a sleek powerboat’s bow rises up and out of the water as the craft reaches 60mph – just 5mph short of its top speed.

The skipper expertly handles the aptly-named Panther boat off Stokes Bay, only decelerating to perform tight doughnuts to port then to starboard.

A loud but high-pitched noise from the single engine underplays its true strength as it again launches the craft out of the water while on a straight.

Just as the sound of the propeller whirring out of the water is audible the bow smashes back down sending spray over the pilot and passengers.

This is what happened when The News joined seven-times world champion Neil Holmes – and thousands of people can enjoy the spectacle as more Powerboat P1 boats race off Stokes Bay, Gosport, this weekend.

Neil, who has trained most of the pilots taking part this weekend, said: ‘Cars tend to be two-dimensional – you go round a track, the next lap is the same, and the next is the same.

‘On a boat you cannot do the same lap twice, the surface is always changing, you’re taking off and landing on a different surface.

‘I do like the Panther racing – what makes it so exciting is the boats are identical – it’s the team and crew.

‘They run at 65mph, travelling at approximately 105ft a second.’

Neil does marathon races and his last was 3,000 miles long from Tower Bridge in London to Monte Carlo.

He is not racing this weekend as he trained most of the pilots taking part.

The two-day event this weekend is the last in a five-race series, with a fleet of ten P1 Panther race boats and more than 30 jet ski riders vying for victory from 1pm each day.

P1 chief operating officer Robert Wicks said: ‘This is the climax of an extensive, demanding and exciting season.

‘The support from everyone in Gosport has been tremendous and we want to put on a great show of sport and entertainment.’

It is the first time the races have been held in the town. P1 has a base at Daedalus and on Hayling Island.