It’s not every day that you get the chance to ride in a powerboat so when motorsport fanatic John Wilson invited me to sample the delights I just couldn’t refuse.
Living in the West Midlands, and so far away from the coast, you can’t really imagine having a hobby that is based so heavily on the sea.
But Wilson is coping just fine. Indeed the disavantage of having to travel long distances to get in some proper practice is not reflected on the P1 Superstock Championship – which he currently leads.
Wilson, the kind-hearted adrenaline junkie he is, agreed to give me a taste of the action.
“I’ll take it easy with you sitting in the navigator’s seat,” he said as I arrived at West Midlands Water Ski Centre at Cliff, in Warwickshire, wondering what I had let myself in for.
“There’s no waves here so you won’t feel the full effect like a normal race day, but it will get your heart pumping I guarantee that.”
He was true to his word as we flew off at 65mph, dodging water skiers in our tracks.
Twisting and turning around the 80 acres of water it was clear he has a real passion for the sport.
“Better than a day in the office isn’t it,” he quipped after thraping the £75,000 boat during one last spin around the lakes.
Now I was beginning to understand the pleasure that the driver gets out of the whole experience even if I wasn’t getting a full taste of it myself.
It’s hard to explain the feeling, but put simply I suppose it’s like being in a racing car, on water.
The machines are made for speed and on a windy day there’s no avoiding a soaking.
On race days the P1 Panther 250 boat, sponsored by Pertemps, can reach speeds of 75mph but at the Tamworth-based facility there isn’t enough space for it to unleash it’s full potential.
The flat waters also make it a more comfortable ride compared to the bumpy conditions out at sea.
“There’s nothing more satisfying than going out and battling it out with a group of other enthusiasts,” Wilson added.
“Don’t get me wrong though, after half an hour out there, you’re glad it’s over because you don’t half get thrown about. The waves can make it really tricky. You feel like you’re involved in a boxing match at times because you get thrown all over the place.
“It’s part of the excitement though I suppose. I just love going out and competing.”
Admittedly, powerboating was not a sport I knew much about before I met Wilson, but the Coleshill businessman was quick to fill me in with all the technical details.
One thing I was keen to know was how much of an impact money can have, and whether it was possible to ‘buy’ the title.
Wilson informed me that no modifications can be made to the boat to help improve it’s performance ensuring that all racers are competing in boats with the same specification.
“A lot of people think that you need to have a lot of money to participate in the sport but that’s not necessarily the case,” he continued.
“The organisers want to see more people taking to the waters so it’s been made more affordable and enjoyable.
“If there’s a group for you that chip in for the boat, it suddenly becomes a lot cheaper than you think.
“There are limits on modifications to help avoid a mega-rich rider coming in with an upgraded boat and easily winning the championship.
“With the way it has been set out the best rider wins.”
And the best team at the moment is the Pertemps crew who stretched their lead at the top of the championship to 15 points over the weekend.
Round three of the P1 SuperStock Championship, the Hull Grand Prix of the Sea, came to an exciting conclusion in Hull Marina on Sunday with an emphatic victory in the P1 250 Panther class for Wilson’s championship-leading team.
The second Enduro race of the weekend provided plenty for the crowds of local supporters to cheer with Wilson, born and bred just a few miles from Hull in the nearby town of Beverley, showcasing his skills throughout.
Along with trusty navigator Neil Scarborough they also secured second place in Saturday evening’s race to increase their lead to 15 points.
“It doesn’t come much better than that”, added Wilson. “The conditions suited us perfectly as we’ve always performed better when the conditions are rough.
“We’re a heavier crew so that helps the boat keep more balance when it’s choppy. It was a bit congested at the start but we knew where we had to go and everything worked perfectly.”
Behind second-placed Pertemps on Saturday was the Edox boat of Rupert Pugh (Matlock, Derbyshire) and Anthony Crossley (Sidmouth) – who missed out on a potential challenge for victory while lapping P1 150 boats.
The duo weren’t able to add another podium on Sunday, dropping down the order midway through after Pugh caught the jack plug after hitting a big wave.
Following a successful weekend in Hull, the championship now has a one-month before the next event at Cowes in the Isle of Wight over the weekend of August 27/28.
It is the fourth meeting of five in the ‘Race to Liverpool’ which will conclude in Albert Dock on September 10/11.