2008 Round Britain Race

The 2008 Round Britain Offshore Powerboat Race

Where do you start after an event of this nature has finished? I think the first mention should be of
COPOC member Markus Hendrick, who was one of the most enthusiastic entrants when the whole escapade was
announced to the world. His entry, a superb 36ft Supermarine Swordfish, an elegant reinterpretation of
the classic Hunt/Burnard Fairey designs of the 60’s was unfortunately lost after hitting an object on
the Portsmouth Plymouth leg of the race and now lies 60 meters down in the English Channel. They were
racing with Gee at the time when a sudden jarring of the hull alerted them to a problem, hatches were
opened to look for the cause and the team were faced with a near 2 foot diameter hole in the hull beneath
the helm. Despite every effort to control the influx of seawater nothing could be done, there was no hope
of racing to the coast and beaching as the water quickly invaded the electrics cutting all power.

They inflated and took to the liferaft after snatching everything possible and awaited their rescue,
Blue Marlin, race no 99 sank within 20 minutes but no one got wet! Gee in the meantime continued unaware
of the drama astern, only learning of Markus’s fate on reaching Plymouth.

It came as somewhat a shock then to the Gee team as they approached the finish in Portsmouth, a week
later, to find themselves being bore down upon by a boat carrying the no 99 and flying a German flag with
all hands waving at them frantically!

A determined to cross the line, Mr Hendricks, had chartered a 72 ft Sunseeker Predator for the day
complete with racing no and finished in company with Gee, the camaraderie of the race between all crews
showing through to the last. The Sunseeker was then host to all who cared to come and celebrate their own
personal triumphs and commiserate with Markus and his team at their loss.

Considering their age, the entries in the Historic Class did somewhat better than some of their
modern counterparts, (for out within the first 2 days went Fabio Buzzi in RED FPT the renamed CESA
and WETTPUNKT.COM the overall favourite finished 30th after a whole host of mechanical gremlins)


Photo Chris Davies.

The historic class had 6 entrants, Ocean Pirate owned by Mike Barlow unfortunately
suffered damage at the start but once fixed and refitted she set off again to satisfy Mike’s determination
to repeat her 69 adventure which they did despite many ongoing problems.

The extremely fast Miss Daisy, a 30ft FAIREY SPEARFISH owned and driven by Jonathan Napier and his BA
pilot crew, known as team 747 were one of the main rivals to the mighty Souter built Gee and were it not
for again, problems, encountered during the first legs, they could so easily have been the class victors.

John Skuse and his 31ft Swordsman, Xanthus, also completed the course even if part of it was on low
loader as did Jonathan Townsend and his crew in Swordsman no 68.

At the end of the day it was the team of GEE the 40 year old Jim Wynn designed and Souter built craft,
that stole the honours and 7 trophies, a fantastic effort when you consider that even right up to
scrutineering they too were having big problems.

A canny Chris Clayton owner of this mighty piece of powerboating history had had her rebuilt over the
2 preceding months, re-engined with twin Cummins diesels (almost back to her original 1000hp spec) along
with new shafts, props and modern electronics, redesigned and strengthened engine beds, rebuilt decks and
internal ribs etc etc and finally repainted and bedecked with sponsors logo’s. Chris’s team had been working
flat out to get her ready but were faced with constant problems and a major uphill battle to get
the "old girl" ready in time.

Was it all worth it?

That is a massive yes for as they came in dockside on Monday the elation and emotions they were
experiencing would match that of any winner you cared to name from any major sport, this was after all
their first offshore race! but what a race to start your learning curve on.

The club should be very proud that throughout the whole race our logo clung tenaciously to the bows
of this superb and beautiful raceboat and we should also remember that they not only raced but jeopardised
their leading position to assist other craft that had experienced problems, including their main rivals
Team 747, who could so easily have overhauled them. Such was the sportsmanship shown by the team that one
of the magnificent trophies they scooped was that of "SPIRIT of THE EVENT".

We must thank the team of Gee for such a magnificent effort and representing the club in such a
professional manner, our vision when we formed in 2006 was that one day true offshore racing would and
could return to our shores, Chris Clayton, his team and Gee have proved that Classic offshore is back!


Photo Chris Davies.

Recent Posts

Renato (Sonny) Levi.

Renato Levi, known to all as Sonny, was born in Karachi, India in 1926.
His father ran a shipyard in Bombay(now Mumbai), so Sonny naturally took an
early interest in boats & ships.

Sonny became an apprentice in his fathers shipyard in Bombay, but with the coming of World War 2, he joined the RAF, becoming a Pilot Officer. No doubt his interest not only in boats but also aircraft was heightened by this part of his life.

Sonny became primarily interested in marine design, especially in relation to smaller, fast craft, and the ability of such craft to withstand the varieties of sea conditions often encountered. He designed craft for his fathers yard during the 1950’s, but moved to Italy in 1960. In Italy, Sonny managed Cantiere Navaltecnica (Canav), in Anzio.

No one of a certain age can forget “A’Speranziella”, built by Canav to Sonny’s design for the 1961 Cowes-Torquay Race. She finished sixth, after experiencing mechanical problems, but had led the race for a considerable distance, dueling with the eventual winner “Thunderbolt”.

After partially re-building the boat in light of the experiences of 1961, success dawned with a win in the 1962 Viareggio-Bastia Race. Further developments resulted in great success with “A’Speranziella” winning the 1963 Cowes-Torquay Race.

Sonny became a world renowned designer of fast craft largely as a result of these successes, and the many fast craft he designed culminated in the 1965 launch of
“Surfury”, often thought of as one of Sonny’s most memorable designs. This boat
made a name for herself, winning Cowes-Torquay in 1967. “Surfury” was the first of Sonny’s much lauded Delta designs.

This success brought more commissions, and Levi designs were sought world wide,
where fast sea-going boats were needed.

In the 1980’s, Richard Branson commissioned Sonny to design “Virgin Atlantic
Challenger II”, which was successful in recording the then fastest trans-Atlantic crossing, despite contaminated fuel issues en route. This famous boat was certainly a fabulous marker in Sonny’s career. “VAC II” not only had its design by Sonny, but also the Levi Drive system too.

Developments in high speed propeller and drive systems have been part of Sonny’s
great contribution to fast boat development over the last forty or more years.

Martin Napier

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