Bust, I am sorry to say… but not for long!
Originally the Venture Cup was a massive endurance race, re-creating history from 1972, which was planned to run this June and most of my powerboat fraternity were attempting to prepare for this huge event.
First we were racing from Cowes to Monte Carlo; then it changed to London to Monte Carlo – approximately 2400nm. This all sounded amazing!
But then I think, to be honest, we all got a bit carried away. In the current financial climate where acquiring sponsorship as a sportsman was already proving difficult, a feat of this sort was a lot for anyone to take on and commit to.
Needless to say, when it came to it, not many of us handed over the justifiably large entry fee that was required, and the event folded. Most of us thought that was the end of it, yet another powerboat event had been lost to the recession.
To the rescue
But a unique salvage team appeared seemingly from nowhere. They rallied the troops back together and gave us an inspiration of hope by leading an encouraging meeting at the London Boat Show back in January.
The unique salvage team consists of some very well-respected men of the racing world – Peter Dredge, Simon Woodpower, Richard Carlton, Robin Hyde, Dougal Driver and Aidan Foley.
I caught up with Aidan Foley to get the low-down so far on the event for this year and next year. What impressed me the most was that they are walking before running and appreciating that people do want to race this year, but not at great expense.
The plan is to run a Venture Cup Prologue race this year, racing from London to Brighton to Guernsey to Bournemouth; a distance of approximately 750 miles over four days. I think this will be a very good warm up for the big event in 2014, which will be London to Monte Carlo!
Aidan and the team are confident that 25 boats will be on the start line, which will be very impressive and a fantastic spectacle.
The big question – how much? Well, the entry fees start at £1250 and go up according to horsepower, which is normal. I have been assured that most of the boats that are entering are paying around the £1500 entry fee, which I think is a lot more feasible than the original price tag – I appreciate that the prime destination Monte Carlo is not in the title but that will come, just be patient guys!
Risks and rewards
It’s not all about petrol-heads and noise either – I know that’s what we all love – but there is a strong environment message being portrayed. The official press release states: “The Venture Cup is exciting, ambitious and new – as are our environmental objectives. We will build in all the possible safeguards we can and we will also learn along the journey and get cleaner and greener as we go. To aid our learning we will set up comprehensive monitoring systems and carry out research on environmental aspects that aren’t fully understood. We will work with the best academics, environmentalists and institutes and we will share our learning.”
This is never a bad thing for any motorsport in this day and age.
Another message that Aidan was keen to convey is that the Venture Cup is all about adventure, glamour, risk and reward – not just about the start and finish lines. This will be a true adventure and a great warm up for the big one next year! The new management team are working hard already for 2014 Venture Cup London to Monte Carlo and are consistently passing on information to the teams about the progress of the event and what costs and planning will be involved.
I also caught up with John Puddifoot, RYA Powerboat Racing Manager, who is very enthusiastic and excited to be working closely with the new highly professional team of promoters. He is very keen to take the marathon class of powerboat racing to a new higher level.
I personally wish them all the luck in the world to make this year a success because my goodness, as a sport, do we need it! And I am confident that it will motivate our sport for the future and that London to Monte Carlo will happen in 2014. Come and be part of the adventure.
Read Shelley Jory-Leigh’s Power Column every month in All At Sea