It’s been another year of impressive numbers for P1 SuperStock racing, and these figures don’t include the hundreds of thousands of spectators who have enjoyed the high speed P1 action this year. Powerboat racing has shown its true potential to attract and engage fans in diverse markets.
Some people think it’s all over, but there’s still more to come as the P1 fleet in the United States prepares for the final round of the season at Islamorada in the Florida Keys later this month when there will be five races over the weekend.
The year began back in March when P1’s two national champions were joined in Mumbai by crews representing eight countries, as the inaugural Powerboat P1 Indian Grand Prix of the Seas World Championship took to the water watched by tens of thousands of spectators together with millions of live TV viewers worldwide. Staged in the natural amphitheatre of Mumbai’s splendid, sweeping bay, the three-day event showcased the best P1 SuperStock racers in the world. In the midst of this impressive setting was a unique race track on water formed by an extraordinary 6,500 buoys.
With an innovative team championship format in place, the brother and sister pairing of Sam and Daisy Coleman completed a clean sweep of victories on the opening day to ensure their team would lead overnight. The following day saw them record a hat-trick of race victories that included leading from start to finish in the energy sapping 20-lap finale. The American crew of Craig Wilson and William Enriquez drove superbly to push the Welsh duo all the way, but it was the Colemans who headed home as the new world champions.
The Mumbai event introduced the sport to a huge new audience on the sub-continent and the nine hours of live television broadcasting played a considerable role in taking powerboat racing to the next level on its journey to becoming a mainstream sport.
The P1 SuperStock USA series got underway in May with St. Cloud hosting the opening weekend. Pursuing an incredible fourth straight championship title, the Team Barbados crew of James Norvill and Charlie Parsons-Young started as favourites after finishing second in the World Championship in India. They have again been criss-crossing the Atlantic to compete in both the USA and UK championships, seeking to repeat their 2014 ‘double’ when they won both SuperStock titles. But, after a year out, it was Walt Cox and Jamie Canter in the Southeastern Lighting Solutions boat who took the spoils.
It was next stop Jacksonville where, despite failing to win a single race over the weekend, the reigning champions claimed top spot on the podium thanks to the Visit Jacksonville boat running out of fuel in the final race. Perfect conditions at St. Pete Beach for the third round of the season saw the Frank & Al’s Pizza boat, with Frank Silva and Tony Iannotta in the cockpit, blow the title race wide open with victory. Team Barbados’ hopes of retaining their title took a serious blow with a fifth place finish which dropped them to third in the overall standings.
Sarasota’s hugely popular annual Powerboat Grand Prix Festival awaited the SuperStock teams over the Independence Day weekend and Spectre announced their championship ambitions with a clean sweep of victories thanks to outstanding driving by Craig Wilson. It’s sure to be a tense and dramatic finale to the season in Islamorada with just twenty points covering the top four boats.
The UK SuperStock season began in early June with the series making its first ever overseas visit. It was a memorable weekend for the Welsh at the P1 Aalborg Grand Prix of the Sea in northern Denmark as they dominated the podium with the Platinum Products crew of Norvill and Parsons-Young edging out reigning UK champions Sam and Daisy Coleman in the Pertemps Network boat in a closely fought battle.
Two weeks later the second running of the P1 Scottish Grand Prix of the Sea served up a feast of thrills and spills on the Clyde to entertain a crowd of more than 30,000 over the two days of racing. The Colemans again proved dominant as they powered to victory in Greenock. The ever-improving Milford Waterfront team of Charles Morris and Andrew Foster had to settle for second place, earning the Anglo-Welsh pairing their first podium finish. Local favourites Spirit of Inverclyde, crewed by father and daughter Dave and Ashleigh Finlayson, recorded another set of consistent results at their second ever Grand Prix of the Sea weekend to finish fifth.
The final SuperStock race in Scotland was a milestone for Powerboat P1, being the 500th race since the business was founded 15 years ago. The race was won by the Colemans and they were presented with a special trophy to mark the occasion.
The P1 Welsh Grand Prix of the Sea provided the finale to the UK championship, with the event moving from Cardiff Bay to the Pembrokeshire port of Milford Haven. A maximum of 120 points on offer meant that despite their 17 point lead in the championships standings Sam and Daisy Coleman were not assured of retaining their title. Mindful of a non-finish obliterating their lead, they drove consistently in testing conditions on the opening day to record second place in all three races behind the flying Milford Waterfront boat. On day two they chose not to go for weekend glory and risk not finishing. This strategy saw them finish second on the podium behind local favourites Milford Waterfront and win the P1 SuperStock UK Championship for a second year by a margin of 5 points.
This year has again seen P1’s high calibre events generate significant levels of inward economic investment at host venues, together with creating a commercial platform for sponsors, partners and the wider marine industry as it develops into a genuine global motorsport.