After the biggest break since the Second World War, the roar of powerboats once again reverberated around Carr Mill Dam for the first time since October 2019. Much work had been done off the water, with new officials, changes in rules and general gremlins, but by lunchtime on the Saturday we were ready for our first test session giving everybody the opportunity to get back into driving their outfits, and it felt so good.

Our youngest driver, Harvey Smith was the first to take to the water, followed by veteran, Mr Bill in his 50th year at the club.  The test day ran smoothly with all the drivers having a good run, in preparation for the race the following day.

Sunday dawned bright and clear with Carr Mill looking more like the Riviera, and unfortunately only 7 boats taking part, three from the Windermere Club and four from Carr Mill with horsepower ranging from 70 up to 200. What we lacked in quantity we surely made up in quality with the five fastest boats being handicapped very closely together which made overtaking very difficult especially with some wily old foxes out there making their boats very wide at the opportune moments.

The flat calm at the beginning of the heats soon churned up into the usual Carr Mill maelstrom, with conditions between the U Turn and the right hander notoriously tricky especially for Matt Wood in his brand new Simia Hull powered by a four stroke 115 horsepower Mercury. Matt was getting to grips with the handling of the rig and having an interesting dice with Mr Bill throughout the afternoon with Bill enjoying alternate views of the top of Matt’s Head and the bottom of his boat on regular occasions.

Simon Leigh who is relatively new to the sport was running a new (to him) outfit and with Jen Battarbee as crew was going faster every lap but in doing so kept bursting his handicap to the point where he was rounding the first turn whilst everybody else was only just crossing the finishing line.

All the boats running so close together meant that the faster boats were struggling with the rough water but the experience of Will Wood and Adam Brown showed through and they had enough speed to pass most of the boats just on the Chequered flag, but not without Mr Bill trying to hold them off to the last minute.

One driver to enjoy a trouble-free ride was Stuart Bird who had spent the previous 24 hours rebuilding his gearbox but his efforts were worth it giving him a vey creditable second place out of the Carr Mill boats which were racing.  Unfortunately, the same could not be said for his partner in crime, Chris Dakin, who was having the ride of his life until his battery terminal came off in heat 3 which stopped him in his tracks and ruined his chances of a good finish overall.

Gremlins also put paid to Miles Fricker who had carburettor problems but when he got his outfit sorted, it was really on song, being by far the fastest boat out there but lack of consistency and missing of a couple of heats put paid to any of his chances.

Considering that this was our first time on the water for 18 months, the meeting ran extremely well, with much work going on behind the scenes over the preceding weeks. Special credit must go to our new Race Director, Chris Dakin ably assisted by Stuart Bird. Chris has brought the LPRC timing and race entry system into the 20th century as well as providing us with a new clock face and start lights, which worked from the off.

Prize giving was an emotional affair for me as Commodore. As I said, it was 50 years almost exactly when I joined the club with my Dad and although we shall have to postpone the celebrations until after lockdown, it was great to see many people whom I had grown up (and old) with along with kids and grandkids. It was also great that I happened to win both the Turner Trophy for Carr Mill members and also the joint prize.

And finally, the surprise of the day was the presentation of the Commodore’s award. This is usually given out at the Dinner Dance to someone in recognition of their services to the Club or the sport. Due to Covid this was not given last year but it gave me great pleasure to be able to present it to Chris Loney. I have known Chris since his childhood and have watched him grow into a formidable racer in monohulls and catamarans.

When we lost our RYA membership, we quickly formed association called the Circuit Powerboat Association, and Chris has been the chair right from the beginning. Whether he sees it as a chore or something different doesn’t matter because he, along with others obviously, has held it all together, and at great cost to himself. Without him, it is doubtful that we would be racing at all.

It is a lovely trophy with some great names upon it, so please join me in congratulating him.

The results will be posted elsewhere on the Facebook page, and there are lots of photos to be seen on the LPRC powerboat photos website and page.

Our next meeting is Saturday 12th June, on the water at 1pm till 5, following our normal club race format. See you there.

Bill Owen Commodore LPRC