This weekend saw the Kent Powerboat team Jelf Racing head to Stewartby Powerboat Racing Club for the final Round of the 2018 RYA British Championships.
In a sensational end to the season that also marks the end of the RYA’s involvement with the sport, father and son duo Colin and Ben Jelf managed to secure the final British RYA Championship titles of their classes while Ben’s cousin George Elmore secured the GT15 British RYA Title in a fantastic finish to the season for the team.
As always the event wasn’t without drama for the team when Ben crashed out of heat 1 of the F4 championship following a collision with Harvey Smith that saw both teams sent sky ward and saw Jelf Racing faced with a race against time to get the boat repaired and back out on the water to keep Ben’s dreams of a double F4 catamaran crown alive.
In the GT15 Class Junior racer George Elmore knew exactly what he had to do to ensure he secured his name as the last racer to win the RYA British GT15 Trophy and mark his place in history like so many great junior racers before him. In qualifying he set about to secure himself pole position to ensure he had the best start to the first turn buoy ahead of fierce rival Oban Duncan and the rest of the fleet of junior racers knowing that Oban was not going to make the weekend easy for him and would push him in every turn and over every inch of the course.
With lap times in George had done enough – just 2 seconds separated the youngsters and it would now go down to the heats to see who would lift the GT15 crown. George cruised to two straight victories in the first 2 heats with Oban facing a problem meaning she was delayed getting away on the starts. Sunday and the final two heats of the championship saw Oban and George go head to head in battle with Oban just managing to edge George out in each of the heats but with two strong second place finishes the Chatham youngster claimed the GT15 RYA British Championship Title.
In the T850 class Bedford’s Nigel Edwards battle hard throughout the weekend to keep himself in the hopes of a British Championship podium finish. Once more Nigel fought hard with his competitors but also continued to battle with engine gremlins but managed to hold off Bill Owen to take a very well deserved Bronze medal podium place and secure more silverware for the team.
Ben Jelf and Sam Coleman were both out competing for the team in the F4 class, Ben was going to have a fight on his hands to secure the British RYA Championship title as he looked for the double crown and his 15th British title. With Sam looking for a strong podium finish in his first season in the F4 class. In qualifying just 0.00.02 of a second separated Ben Jelf and Rival Jono Brewer who just managed to squeeze out the championship leader into second place. Sam was forced into 6th place and seemed to be struggling to find the speed he needed.
Heading into heat one disaster struck when following a restart Ben crashed out from pole position after a collision with Harvey Smith and found himself forced to sit out of heat 2 as the team battled against time to repair the boat and get the youngster back out on the water. Meanwhile Sam was making the most of clearer water to secure his best race finishes of the season.
The dedication of the team paid off and heading into the third heat Ben was back on the water and doing everything he could to hang onto the championship title. Unfazed by the previous day’s incident two strong finishes saw Ben secure his double F4 British crown to accompany his European Bronze and 4th place World championship finish and Sam securing a strong 4th place in the British Championship in his first season.
The final team member in action certainly had his work cut out both on and off the water as he looked to secure the second British double crown for the team but also make sure all the team were out on the water ready to fight for their own championship campaigns. Team manager Colin Jelf knew rivals Steve Hoult and Ian Blacker would be fighting every inch of the course to stop the former 3 times World Champion from securing the double British Championship crown.
In qualifying just 0.11 of a second stood between Jelf and pole position with rival Steve Hoult taking the lead and the all important pole position into the first heat. However Jelf had his eyes firmly of the championship crown and knew that if he could keep the pressure on Hoult there may be the opportunity to pass him to secure the Grand Prix lead. However Hoult put in a flawless performance throughout the 4 heats of racing to secure the Grand Prix but with strong second place finishes in each heat and fantastic prior form throughout the season Jelf secured the 2018 RYA British F2 Championship to make it another double crown for the team.
On the performance from the team throughout the weekend and season team manager Colin Jelf had this to say “We’ve competed as a team this season, every single member of our team is vital to the team’s success, yes our drivers have to have the skill and dedication out on the water to win races, but without all the hard work from the rest of the team we wouldn’t be able to do what we need to out on the water. So whilst our names are engraved on the trophies, every chequered flag we take, every podium finish and every championship won is a team effort and belongs to us all.”
On the future of the Jelf Racing team and the sport he continued “Jelf Racing have been involved with Powerboat Racing for over 50 years now and have seen many things change over the years. As a team we’d like to thank the RYA, it’s officials, clubs, committees volunteers and sponsors for their dedication to the sport over the years. As a sport we have some uncertain times ahead of us, as the sport looks for a new governing body and look to regenerate the sport. For the time being Jelf Racing are going to enjoy our successes from this and then we will look to the future of the team and our sport.”