Crowds wowed by Grand Prix of the sea

Speed boat action in South Bay prior to the race weekend. Powerboat  Champion Neil  Holmes has a race around Scarboroughs coast with intrepid reporter Susan Stephenson.. Pic RichardPonter 152120d
Speed boat action in South Bay prior to the race weekend. Powerboat Champion Neil Holmes has a race around Scarboroughs coast with intrepid reporter Susan Stephenson.. Pic RichardPonter 152120d
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Thousands of people flocked to Scarborough’s South Bay to watch powerboats battle it out in the P1 Grand Prix of the Sea.

The event, which took place on Saturday and Sunday, drew crowds to the beach as race teams reached speeds of 70 miles per hour.

SPEED BOATS --- Speed boat and jetski racing competitions in Scarborough South Bay. // Higher powered jet ski race. Saturday 30th May 2015. HARRY ATKINSON

SPEED BOATS --- Speed boat and jetski racing competitions in Scarborough South Bay. // Higher powered jet ski race. Saturday 30th May 2015. HARRY ATKINSON

The spectacle also featured freestyle jet ski displays by current World Champion Lee Stone and reigning British Champion Jason Bleasdale.

Scarborough’s new mayor Cllr Tom Fox was delighted that Scarborough was chosen to host the event.

He said: “Events such as this are absolutely critical to our local tourism economy so it’s truly an amazing achievement for us to host the P1 Grand Prix.”

Robert Wicks, chief operating officer of Powerboat P1, said: “Everyone has been extremely welcoming and our special thanks go to Scarborough Council and local sponsors for their support in making this event happen.”

Janet Deacon, Scarborough Council’s tourism manager, said: “The atmosphere over the weekend was fantastic. We have received a great deal of positive feedback from key businesses and sponsors of the event and we are hoping that it becomes an annual fixture in the borough’s event calendar.

“The crowds on Saturday were amazing with the seafront and piers full of spectators. Town centre footfall figures showed a significant increase with one of the two footfall cameras showing a 27 per cent increase compared with the equivalent week last year.”

Also at the event was Scarborough News competition winner Mark Jenkinson, who scooped a VIP powerboat ride.

Mark, who is part of the coastguard team, said: “Being at the seafront is in my blood, but I’ve never done anything like this before.

“I was absolutely over the moon when I found out. It’s such a great opportunity.”

During the event, walkabout characters “Flotsam” and “Jetsam” from the Animated Objects Theatre Company’s were in action, meeting and entertaining the crowds.

The creations were crewed by Dawn Dyson-Threadgold and Lee Threadgold, pictured.

• See page 101 for sports coverage of the event.

By Susan Stephenson

With Scarborough hosting the P1 powerboat racing over the weekend, I thought I may end up writing about the event - but little did I know I’d be taking to the seas myself.

But when the organisers got in touch and asked if I’d like to go for a ride I jumped at the chance.

Boats and I generally do not get along - whenever I get on board the skies seem to bruise and the waves start to build like something out of The Perfect Storm.

And with Friday’s weather looking decidedly dodgy, I wondered if the experience was going to be more SOS than VIP.

But arriving at race headquarters on West Pier, I was glad to see the sea was as calm as a millpond and that the sun was just starting to emerge from the blackened skies.

Photographer Richard Ponter and I were given a warm welcome and chatted eagerly with organisers about how to get the best shots.

But as we were given a safety briefing - and told to pull a cord on our life vest if we got into difficulties - the dreaded boat fear started to return.

I don’t know if it was the look on my face, but we were told not to worry and that if we did go over, someone from a patrolling rib would have scooped us up from the water before we realised what had happened.

Getting on board, my confidence returned when I met our driver - seven times World Champion Neil Holmes - so I knew we were in safe hands.

As we left the harbour, everyone was waving at us from the pier and passing boats including the Hispaniola.

People love the powerboats and you can see why. They stand out a mile from the usual vessels making their way in and out of the harbour.

As we roared out into South Bay, the engine kicked in and sent us bouncing across the waves.

The engine sounded amazing and the acceleration was super fast. It made it clear why the race boat - a P1 Panther - is likened to a Formula 1 car.

We took a few spins around the circuit in South Bay, giving us a spectacular view of Scarborough under stormy skies.

Having been nervous at first I found myself willing Neil to go faster as my worries disappeared.

But before we knew it, we were heading back to shore, again greeted by the waves of children and adults alike on the harbourside.

The ride was a brilliant experience which I would repeat in a second. Friday afternoons will never be the same again.

Our thanks go out to Neil and the team at Powerboat P1 for making it possible and looking after us.

It seems boats and I can be friends after all - but maybe only big, shiny ones that make you feel like a Bond girl for 15 minutes.

• Watch a video of Susan’s powerboat trip at www.thescarboroughnews.co.uk