The UK offshore powerboat racing season kicked off at Poole Bay this weekend with the late Tommy Sopwith’s historic 1963 Bertram 31, Thunderstreak [H400] taking first places in the Class 4 [Historic/Offshore] on both days at the UKOPRA-organised race weekend in Poole Bay.
Not only was the Isle of Wight-restored and rigged H400, at 58 years, the oldest boat in the 20-30 boat fleet by several decades and more, but the crew’s average age was “comfortably north of 71”.
Thunderstreak was entered by “Team: Royal Yacht Squadron” with race-boat owner-driver Hugo Peel joined by RYS Members – navigator Johnny Raymond and James Gaggero on throttles/trim.
Based in Cowes, Isle of Wight, its extensive three-year restoration programme at local boatyard Solent Marine Services, was the subject of an extensive article in Motorboat&Yachting magazine in 2020, “From Wreck to Racer”.
This charted her history from 1960’s/1970’s contender to derelict 2013 houseboat – and back to racer again.
Hugo Peel comments: “Saturday’s ‘shakedown race’ in near perfect sea-conditions enabled the crew to work up H400”s systems and work as a team. Sunday’s longer, much tougher race let Team Royal Yacht Squadron put them to [often] severe test over 80+ miles of close racing in an ugly swell underlying a confused sea.”
Many competitors with contemporary race-boats sadly failed to finish with mechanical breakdowns and electrical failures.
H400’s crew got off lightly with bruises and tired legs – and just one broken finger.