Over the last eight years the P1 Panther race boat has become a familiar sight at P1 SuperStock events around the UK and Florida coasts, and sometimes further afield such as in India.
But next year it may be a little more difficult to recognise the Panther as it will be racing with a UIM 508 compliant canopy.
Following the entire P1 racing fleet being fitted with new carbon hulls by Wilson Custom Composites in Florida ahead of the current race season and the announcement that it will be re-powering for 2019 with the new Mercury Racing 4.6L V-8 four-stroke 300R outboard, Powerboat P1 has unveiled plans to revolutionise the one-design series and attract a new set of racers by converting the Panther to a canopy race boat.
P1 chief executive, Azam Rangoonwala said:
The Panther is at the heart of our successful championship and we believe that the upgraded craft will significantly broaden our participation base next year whilst maintaining the highly competitive racing.
Working closely with the key players on all aspects of the upgrade will be Martin Sanborn, who was one of the lead developers of the P1 and then took it to the next level through utilising the resources of the Performance Boat Centre in Florida.
He makes clear that the move to the canopy configuration will have a number of important results including increased safety for the crews, improved race performance and the change from a mechanical control system to a digital throttle and shift system which will increase responsiveness and simplify the rigging process for the boats.
Martin Sanborn points out that the work to be carried out will be compliant with current UIM and APBA certification, and he is keen to highlight the safety and performance benefits that will result from the canopy system:
The canopy and cockpit will feature a carbon composite structure that is both light and exceptionally strong. Engineering, that will include a complex integration of a polycarbonate windscreen and receiver together with recessed carbon hatches, is targeted with aerodynamic, hydrodynamic and mechanical impact considerations to provide maximum protection to the racers.
The boats will see another weight loss resulting in a lowering of the vertical centre of gravity and better handling.
Craig Wilson of Wilson Custom Composites added:
Powerboat P1 have leap frogged the marine industry by having the most technically advanced full safety canopy system and interior available. We will make the P1 Panther a racing work of art.
Azam Rangoonwala concluded by saying:
The combination of new power and sleek, new hulls will bring an extra dimension to the SuperStock series where the focus will be even more on boat setup and driver skill.
I can’t wait for the green flag to drop!
We will be following the progress of this major project with you over the coming months, with the next key stage being the on-water engine testing programme in Florida during October.