Imagine offshore powerboat racing having a public profile strong enough to make the back cover of the UK’s most prestigious national newspaper. AB with Mike Ring under Tower Bridge at the start of the London-Brighton race (1989/90?). Photo: Times Newspapers Ltd
Evolution: ‘process of development from earlier forms’. (Oxford dictionary.)
It’s one thing to come up with an initiative, It’s quite another to put it into action! The previous post/article ‘Courage & Commitment’ proposed a communication initiative. I am happy to say it has stimulated interest and some constructive exchanges. However, what is needed is communication with more actual stakeholders.
Note the heading here states: ‘Evolution’ – not revolution. The evolution of this sport started with ‘like-minded people’ engaging in discussion and contributing, as the issues, practicalities and solutions were aired – calmly, rationally and indeed with the same passion we have for the sport. That is the spirit in which it can continue to evolve and thrive – one positive step at a time.
Dare I repeat: “Professional motorsports take a consensus across a wide spectrum of relevant factors which are carefully considered and rationalised - to present classes that make sense – therefore achieving maximum participation and commercial value”.
Surely this is what we all want to see.
With this in mind I am looking, to those I regard as two of the most relevant and progressive offshore race organisation bodies internationally – and are already on an evolutionary path. The Australian Offshore Powerboat Club (AOPC) in Australia and the UK Offshore Powerboat Racing Association (UKOPRA) in the UK. I would also very much like to include a similar entity from the USA – and anywhere else in fact - so really, it’s an open invitation!
The Victoria based AOPC became somewhat swept up in the Australian ‘Supercat’ agenda, where it appeared some members were not entirely comfortable. A reset of their values has seen an initiative to embrace a more fundamental program of events intended to encourage wider and more affordable participation. They are making a superb effort and the ingredients are there - but there’s some way to go before a viable ‘professional’ product could be presented to serious commercial or media interests. I have some reservations in respect to the dangers of the ‘run what you brung’ philosophy - but the informal approach in relatively sheltered-water club events, is certainly getting results.
The AOPC includes some very experienced ‘professional’ members for whom I have the greatest respect. While some still participate in the national Superboat (cat) series, I feel certain that a parallel resumption of ‘true’ offshore racing still lingers there in the AOPC’s spiritual DNA.
It must happen before I get too old – even if only to keep alive the idea that I could one day duel on the waves with some good friends down there in Victoria!
Political upheaval appears to have divided every aspect of British life! Everything seems to have two camps!
The short story is that, with the exception of the Offshore Circuit Racer guys (o/b sportsboats), true ‘offshore’ declined to the level of just one event based on UIM Marathon rules – the Cowes Classic. Much of the responsibility for the ‘offshore’ decline, was placed with the UIM affiliated governing body, the Royal Yachting Association (RYA). The consequence, triggered by the OCR guys, was an exodus from the RYA. UKOPRA quickly stepped up and gained the support to take authority and make things happen. They took a pro-active approach to administering ‘offshore’ and instigated a welcome revival of the true offshore racing culture. Meanwhile another group, apparently comprising former RYA advocates, with no office or even a website, has subsequently claimed ‘they’ are the representative body!
As with the AOPC, putting on races involved gathering the willing participants and available boats. In this case, historics, classics, ‘run-what-you-brung’ and a few remnant UIM-marathon ‘biggest-gun’ examples! I am advised that there are now some more recent builds on their way. A structure based on Class 3 and ‘Marathon’ accommodates the fleet but the issue of more classes than boats remains – and let’s just say, with one or two glowing exceptions, reliability among the bigger boats, has not been a strong point!
Again, I have reservations, but the fact is, the seed has been sown and again, I have the greatest respect and admiration for the guys who have strived to put the administration in place and despite British weather, stage some well organised races.
Tomorrow the World!
Returning to the philosophy. The evolution of an international offshore structure, agreed on and ultimately pursued by each nation, achieving ‘maximum participation and commercial value’, is the objective.
This can happen, rationally, just one step at a time.
I am currently running the draft of a suggested modern era ‘Offshore’ framework past some very experienced and respected eyes and brains! Watch this space!
The talking points are all there in the previous posts – and again I invite comment and discussion:
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