I met recently with Fiona Pascoe, director of ThunderCat Racing and she told me of a mission statement that’s spreading within the ThunderCat community.
“We don’t talk about someone’s disability; it’s all about their ability,” she says. “Over the past six years, Vee Ganjavian and I have promoted inclusivity.
“People do think I’m slightly obsessed with the words ‘diverse and inclusive’ within powerboat racing – that may be true – but isn’t life about showing that you care? Showing the love and building a community that encompasses all; we don’t say that you can not race, rather we show you the ways you can – be it as a competitor on water or assisting on land. Sports is a wonderful platform for this as everyone has something in common, whether rich or poor, young or old, short, tall… what matters is that we are inclusive!”
2012 saw an exciting partnership develop between ThunderCat Racing and Microlink, a Southampton based company owned by Vee Ganjavian, himself a very successful powerboat racer, that specialises in assisted technology. This technology offers everyone the opportunity to develop their abilities, whether blind, dyslexic, deaf or suffering from dyspraxia; the main aim is to make sure everyone has the ability to maximise their true potential.
Fiona continues: “Last year the company increased the opportunities for a cross section of young individuals within our racing series; offering work experience to university students and enabling groups of hearing impaired children to enjoy a day out at Watergate Bay in Cornwall, watching the surf racing. The children were really able to feel part of the event, as Microlink’s technology enabled them to talk to the racers and organisers via specialist laptops called the ‘UbiDuo’.”
It was a great success and wonderful to see the kids on the beach… the smiles on their faces were amazing.
Fiona reports: “We even got a wonderful lad called Toby who is deaf to teach us how to break dance as we found out he loves to dance. We took him close to the PA speaker and turned the sound up so he could feel the beat. He had us all dancing with him and by the end of the day there was no dividing line, just a group of kids enjoying themselves and watching their favourite adrenaline sport.”
Now 2013 is upon us, Microlink has become an even larger stake holder within ThunderCat Racing and has invested in a mobile advertising campaign, promoting inclusivity that travels to the Thundercat events. The mobile unit will be at two exciting international festivals this year – the UIM P750 ThunderCat Racing World Championships which takes place 4–13 October in Pentewan Sands, Cornwall, and the International Marathon event based in Southampton from 30 August to 7 September.
And the mission won’t stop there. Vee and his team want to extend their vision even further by using his 38ft Phantom USA Marathon powerboat, capable of speeds of 110 mph.
Vee has invited rifleman Paul Jacobs to take the helm of the boat. Paul served with 2 Rifles in Herrick 14 in Afghanistan where, in August 2009, he was involved in an IED incident leading a number of injuries including loss of sight. Now, with Vee throttling they will attempt to break the world blind water speed record. Watch this space!