2019 saw the return of the highly successful offshore powerboat racing team of Kevin ‘Vin’ Burdock and John Donnelly in the Quantum / JDR Prepared, Panther raceboat.
In 2017 during the Powerboat P1 World Championship which was held in India, the team suffered a mechanical fault which detached the engine from the boat and caused it to turn over sending Donnelly and Burdock into the Arabian sea in a dramatic conclusion to their P1 racing career.
Whilst Donnelly only sustained minor injuries, Burdock severely injured his back leaving him unfit to race or work for many months and not sure if he would ever race again.
After a two year sabbatical the team decided to overhaul their boat with the intention of delivering the performance the boat has always deserved.
With the experience of many years racing the boat and knowing its faults, Donnelly and Burdock set about upgrading the boat to deal with a new chapter and an upcoming formidable challenge of racing in the UKOPRA Class 3X World Series.
Previously the team had raced 4 times over a weekend, normally twenty-minute races covering just 20 or so miles and even then, the boats used to struggle to hold together with the offshore conditions and were regularly seen retiring.
UKOPRA courses were a massive jump for what the boat had to do.
The UKOPRA courses were now 75-100 miles of offshore conditions much further out to sea than the bay courses of Powerboat P1.
The Panther hull was fitted with the new BRP Evinrude G2 300 hp giving a 50 horse-power upgrade on the previous motor – With a huge gain in torque!
The engine has a unique integrated power steering system and an immensely strong saddle which attaches it to the boat, with no other modifications needed, unlike its Powerboat P1 predecessor.
With support from their sponsor, ‘Robe Lighting’, Donnelly and Burdock headed to the first race of the season, the ‘Poole Bay 100’.
Vin Burdock hadn’t raced in a boat since India and this time things were going to be a little different, Burdock would be driving!
He needed to rebuild his confidence and trust in the boat and himself and he didn’t disappoint, delivering a podium third place in class and a restoration of confidence.
The final race of the season was the big one, the Cowes Poole Cowes, this race has defeated so many boats and the team were determined to make this one count!
The two mile start run saw the Donnelly and Burdock position themselves perfectly for the optimum start and they took the lead, the more powerful and larger boats slowly gained and managed to overtake as the boats exited the Solent and headed off into the open water of Poole Bay.
Donnelly and Burdock maintained their speed and managed the boat keeping on the heels of the boats in front.
Then their chance at came at Bournemouth Pier, the leading boats made a navigational error and Burdock’s navigation and meticulous planning saw the team take the correct course and step into second place with the championship contender less than a boat length behind.
The team kept their cool and for the next 30 miles held off the challengers to deliver second place overall and first in class, the combined performance of Donnelly and Burdock totalled enough points to take the UKOPRA World Class 3X Championship by just 25 points and pick up the prestigious Penthouse trophy.
The season finale was the icing on the cake, and in what can only be described as,’extreme conditions’, an inaugural Speed Weekend organised by the Classic Offshore Powerboat Club, (COPC) under the sanction of UKOPRA was held outside of Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight.
The team crossed the Solent to attend the event and despite the Force 8 gale conditions delivered an average speed of 68.30 mph over the timed course, setting a new UKOPRA Class 3X speed record.