Stewartby Powerboat and Hydroplane Racing Club hosted Britain’s top circuit racers last weekend for the 2016 Powerboat GP RYA British Sprint Championship.
The junior racers aged 9-16 had a hot favourite for the weekend, reigning sprint champion Thomas Mantripp but with strong competition in the rest of the fleet it wasn’t going to be an easy task.
As qualifying got underway the youngsters all took to the water looking to set the fastest lap to secure the coveted pole position. Championship crown hopeful Jonathan Brewer set the fastest lap ahead of the reigning champion.
Heading into the first heat as the lights went out the six youngsters powered away from the start jetty in a flurry of action. As they rounded the top turn all eyes were on Jonathan Brewer and Thomas Mantripp to see who would round the turn first.
The duo were neck and neck as they rounded the turn but as the spray settled Thomas Mantripp edged ahead securing the lead and securing the first heat win.
As the boats lined up for the second heat Jonathan Brewer was noticeably absent from the grid having picked up a bug the youngster was forced to retire from the event.
Thomas once more dominated through the heat leading from start to finish claiming his 3rd consecutive Sprint championship title.
Jelf Racing’s George Elmore put in a strong performance securing a third and second place finish in the heats to secure himself the Silver Sprint Medal and the youngster’s highest placed championship finish to date.
Joining the podium in the bronze place finish was newcomer Astra London putting in a convincing performance in the experienced fleet.
Tiegen Goodfellow looked set to launch an attack on Ben Jelf’s dreams of a 12th British Championship Title.
The formidable youngsters went head to head in qualifying and with just half a second separating them the race was on.
Having secured pole position Jelf set about business knowing the best line into the turn and clean water could be just the advantage he needed to dominate the heat. As they powered ahead towards the first turn as the spray cleared rounding the turn buoy first was Ben Jelf, with Tiegen right behind him.
Closing her down was Thomas Mantripp and Jack Pickles both fighting hard for third place.
Jelf secured heat 1 and then went on to dominate in heat 2 gaining his 12th British Powerboat Racing Title as he secured the 2016 Powerboat GP RYA British GT30 Sprint Championship.
Tiegen Goodfellow secured the silver podium place and Thomas Mantripp returned to the podium in the bronze medal position.
Five gutsy hydroplane racers lined up for qualification with three new racers joining the fleet.
Leading the way setting pole position was Jamie Marr but Jason Mantripp and newcomer Wayne Moyse looked determined to stop him in his tracks.
Despite the strong winds Jamie Marr dominated in both heats to secure his first Powerboat GP RYA British OSY400 Sprint Championship.
Jason Mantripp and David Smith battled it out for the silver medal spot with Jason claiming the runner up spot.
Sam Whittle continued his domination in the F4 class, in the best form of his racing career the youngster set about working towards his first Sprint championship title securing pole position ahead of Ben Jelf and Rob Veares.
Getting a storming start in heat 1 Sam was untouchable and put in a flawless performance in both heats to win his first British Sprint Championship title.
Meanwhile Matt Wood, Ben Jelf and Rob Veares went head to head vying for the silver medal spot second for Rob Veares in Heat 1 followed by fourth in heat 2 saw Rob Veares secure the second podium place.
Matt Wood secured second in heat 2 but having missed a turn buoy in heat 1 the Bronze podium place was Jelf’s to claim with two third place finishes the youngster took his second podium finish of the event.
The final event of the weekend saw the F2 fleet take to the water in a furious battle competing both for the coveted British Sprint championship title but also for vital British Championship points.
In qualifying just half a second separated Championship leader Paul Balfour from the reigning British Champion Steve Hoult with Balfour securing pole.
The start lights went out and the engines roared into action as the fleet of top class racers hurtled towards the first mark each vying for position and points in a bid to become British Sprint Champion.
As the spray cleared, Balfour rounded the mark first but Steve Hoult was bearing down on him and Mark Williams was right behind him so there was no room for error.
Paul Balfour took the first heat win putting himself in a strong position to secure the sprint championship.
Absent from the front runners was 2015 Sprint Champion Colin Jelf who seemed to once more be suffering from engine problems.
Mark Williams was forced to retire from the race, and once more as the spray settled Balfour once more had the lead that he wouldn’t give up despite the best efforts of Steve Hoult and Colin Jelf to catch him Paul Balfour soared home with two clean wins to secure the 2016 Powerboat GP RYA British F2 Sprint Championship.
Steve Hoult’s two strong second place finishes saw him secure the silver medal spot and Scott Curtis made a welcome return to the podium in the Bronze medal position.
Powerboat GP promoter Jason Brewer commented on the newly crowned 2016 Powerboat GP RYA British Sprint Champions;
The weather was against us this weekend but the officials, crews and racers all worked together on Saturday to make sure we got enough racing done to be able to crown our first champions of the year this weekend. It was hard work for everybody but the result was worth it.
The racing was great to watch and every champion had to work extremely hard for their title. A huge congratulations to Thomas Mantripp, Ben Jelf, Jamie Marr, Sam Whittle and Paul Balfour on becoming the 2016 Powerboat GP RYA British Sprint Champions a fantastic achievement for everybody.
The Powerboat GP 2016 RYA British Championship campaign concludes at the Bedford Grand Prix on the 17th & 18th September in what’s set to be an awesome finale to the season.
Nikki is the Sponsorship and PR Manager for the Jelf Racing Powerboat Team.
She was a Powerboat Racing Senior Administrator at the Royal Yachting Association for 6 years.
Nikki reports on the Jelf Racing Team and international F4 racing.