Tuesday 17 October 2017

Thrilling taste of powerboat race coming our way

The 2,200hp Vector Martini V40 powerboat performs high-speed manoeuvres in Cork harbour. Photo: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision
The 2,200hp Vector Martini V40 powerboat performs high-speed manoeuvres in Cork harbour. Photo: Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

Graham Clifford

Racing at 200kph across the waters off Cobh, I grab on to a hand rail and pray that a freak wave doesn't disrupt this out-of-body experience.

In my peripheral vision, the multi-coloured houses on the coast line whizz by and with every second Spike Island grows closer and closer - at this rate, we'll hit Wales in minutes.

A rotation of the steering wheel and we're heading out of Cork Harbour with a roar of the engines. I might never walk on water but for these few minutes I'm gliding along without getting my feet wet.

I'm on board the Vector Martini V40 Powerboat, marshalled by multiple world champion Peter Dredge. Valued at almost €1.5m, this machine, with a top speed of 215kph, is one of the world's finest powerboats - the Lamborghini of the waters.

And from June 11 to 19, the high-speed vessel will be joined by 24 other such powerboats for the 2016 Vector Cup - labelled the world's longest, toughest and most prestigious powerboat race.

Organisers were in Cobh yesterday offering a taste of what's to come in June.

The race, partnered with Independent News and Media, will also feature an array of celebrity participants, including Brazilian race-car driver Bruno Senna, model David Gandy, adventurer Bear Grylls, and a host of Ireland and Munster rugby stars.

"Is there a brake on this thing?" I ask.

"No, I ease off the accelerator to reduce speed," answers Peter.

I can't help thinking 'who'd design one of these things without a brake?' but my concerns are misplaced. You see there's something exhilarating about speed and, once the powerboat is dancing on the edge of the sea, I want to go faster.

Event director Aidan Foley spoke of how "25 top international teams, full of personality and courage," will descend on Ireland.

Teams are coming from across Europe and America to compete and the Venture Cup will co-ordinate with major festivals in Cork, Dingle, Galway, Killybegs, Belfast and Dublin. It's anticipated a million spectators will flock to the coast throughout the race.

And the 'The Haven Partnership' is the global charity partner for the Venture Cup. Established in 2009 by Leslie Buckley and his wife Carmel, the charity works to improve the lives of Haitians affected by extreme poverty and the earthquake that struck the island in 2010. Irish tourism will benefit too, with a global audience of many millions tuning in to watch the race across 70 channels.

As we pull into port, I disembark with my chest puffed out like a returned heroic adventurer. Now, beat that Bear Grylls!

For more on the Venture Cup and its schedule visit ventureoffshorecup.com

Irish Independent

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