TWENTY FIVE boats have been confirmed for the delayed 2020 Great Race, originally scheduled to roar off on August 22, when the annual cross-island event gets underway from 7.10 a.m. today.
Following Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s announcement of new restrictions to curb the spike in cases of Covid-19 on August 15, the Trinidad and Tobago Power Boat Association (TTPBA) - organisers of the popular annual inter-island offshore powerboat racing event - rescheduled to today.
TTPBA president Marcus Gomez said the racers were happy to continue without interruption the 52-consecutive-year legacy of one of the world’s longest running offshore powerboat racing events.
“The racers were all pretty much ready for the last date so this just gave them a little bit more time because a couple of them had issues, so it actually worked in their favour to get a little more time to sort those things out,” Gomez said. “But they are all happy that it continued...In the racing fraternity and worldwide, It is really something (a record) to be proud of.”
All six class champions - the 130 mph class, the 50mph Cruiser Class, 60mph, 70mph, 80mph and 95mph - were expected to return including Mr Solo Too in the 130 mph class and the boat that was first to Tobago in 2019, Energiza, which also captured the 95mph category title. Energiza is unfortunately the only speed demon in that category.
Gomez said boats are being encouraged to chase the record times for their divisions which were established at last year’s event.
In 2018, the Great Race also became a UIM sanctioned event with an official world record course included in the race course, an 80.5 mile segment that starts from the last marker of the circuits in the Gulf of Paria and ends at the first marker in the circuit in Store Bay.
Motul Monster became the first boat to set and capture this world record that currently stands at 47 minutes 43 seconds.
Stakeholders had already been operating in a race against the clock to prepare for this year’s race in a season curtailed by the world pandemic.
The TTPBA calendar had been decimated by the Covid-19 pandemic, leading to a solitary regatta event that splashed off in early March as opposed to the usual series of regattas building into the Great Race.
Without regattas for them to go through the gears on their speed demons in high intensity race conditions, teams have had to settle for conducting their own trials and tune-ups.
With restrictions on sporting events only lifted in late June, owners and racers have only had a few weeks to prepare.
And because of restrictions and regulations prohibiting the gathering of spectators, the TTPBA will utilise the technology to broadcast the event from 6.30 a.m. to fans by live-stream on the Facebook pages of TTPBA, CNC3, Bmobile, Hammer Down Boating and Liqui Molly Trinidad and Tobago.
“The race itself is the same but we have no prize giving no activity in Tobago ... and that’s because the Government doesn’t want any spikes at all to happen from Covid, so we don’t have spectators gathered along the course and all current Covid laws are to be followed by everyone including the racers. We are all doing our part to be safe and follow the current guidelines in play,” Gomez said.