Health reporter Emma Brady found herself in the navigator's chair when she joined a Midland powerboat team racing to raise money for a cancer charity...
Powerboat racing is, according to Marcus Bradshaw, "like a glorified 60mph game of chess".
As he surveyed the competition lined up on the harbour promenade in the Isle of Man's Douglas Bay, it was evident this was more than just about raising £1 million for the Get A-Head head and neck cancer charity, based at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Edgbaston.
The 46-year-old company director, who lives in Chelmarsh, Shropshire, was also determined to make a winning return to form in the Honda Formula 4-Stroke series.
The ten-race series, which includes events at Tyneside, Portsmouth, Isle of Wight and Liverpool, is the largest of its kind and now in its eighth year.
Marcus, of Redditch-based BBLB Architects, has some pedigree when it comes to conquering choppy waters as he has won "one or two things" in the past.
But when his wife Siobhan was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in January last year, he put the racing on hold. However, after she was given a tentative all-clear in December, he decided to come back to the sport to help raise money for a new cancer scanner.
In order to do that, the navigator's role for each of the season's ten races is being sold off - and I was the first to take the hot seat.
The plan had been to arrive on the Isle of Man the day before the race, in order to get acquainted with the boat and see how I coped with bumpy motion as the 150bhp 21ft Cougar vessel surged through the Irish Sea.
That looked increasingly unlikely when Marcus revealed the engine's mount had cracked and needed urgent repairs before the next day's race.
While the other 12 teams managed to get onto the water to see how their boats were performing, Gary - one of Honda's engineers - finished the repairs.
There was just time for some basic instruction and course reconnaissance before the team attended a compulsory race briefing.
Once in the water, Marcus demonstrated how the boat would bounce and turn on the water as it topped 55mph, which feels a lot faster than it sounds.
During the race, the navigator must be the driver's eyes and ears. He or she must note the other boats' positions, which ones are trying to over-take, who has taken their pit lap, acknowledge safety signals, and provide a commentary for the driver.
Following a good night's sleep it was an 8.30am start to get the boat ready before it could be craned into the water. Wearing racing overalls somehow gave people the impression I had done this before; maybe they thought I was a "ringer".
After all the pre-race posturing and intimidating tales of top speeds, it was time to take to the water and for a final pep talk.
"You'll be fine," Marcus said, "just tell me what you see, don't worry about the speed and enjoy it."
As the boats jostled for position, as navigators watched for the yellow flag followed by a green flag, the adrenaline really started to pump. Then, in my best Murray Walker tone, I yelled "Go, go, go" into the intercom, and we were off.
Having started from the outside lane, the quick start enabled us to overtake three other boats, all with new crews, before we reached the first marker, where we were hit by a wall of spray.
By lap four we had some "clear water" between ourselves and our nearest rivals Claygate Bathrooms - last season's champions - but we took the tactical decision to gather speed on the pit lap, knowing they would have to do theirs on lap five to avoid a penalty.
By lap six we were in a game of cat-and-mouse with Claygate in a race for fourth and fifth place, which, with a television helicopter hovering in front of us, was really exciting.
On the final lap, we were still holding them off and by now I was screaming at Marcus urging him to go faster to get more distance.
Then we saw the chequered flag. As Marcus patted my helmet and beamed at me, I momentarily thought we had won. In fact we had finished fourth, but he was more than happy with that result.
He said: "Coming into this first weekend I said I'd be happy to finish in the top six but, with this result and the Sunday's second place, we are already second overall in this series. I would really like to win it now, that is certainly in our grasp now.
"You did an excellent job - you told me exactly what I needed to hear. We may have made one or two mistakes but you did really well."
Marcus - who is rumoured to have a celebrity guest navigator for the next race - will be back on the water on July 22-23 for the Grand Prix at Plymouth.
* Anyone interested in sponsoring Construction Racing's boat or navigator's seat can call Marcus Bradshaw on 01746 765923. ..SUPL: