Rothmans 558

Rothmans 558

It is late summer 1981 and the Cowes Classic is experiencing one of the lowest entries on record, the race that August Bank Holiday had attracted an entry of just 12 craft comprising 6 OP1 and 6 OP2, although there was no denying the entries were top quality. Entrants were from Italy, the USA and Germany plus the Brits led by Ted Tolman and Mike Doxford, the promised good weather turned sour and within the first ten minutes half the fleet had been knocked out including Ego the entry of Italian Renato della Valle a 38ft Don Shead designed CUV powered by 2, 650hp Mercruiser’s, with a damaged drive shaft.

Rothmans Ego 1982

Rothmans Ego 1982 Photo courtesy Graham Stevens

Not to be discouraged della Valle returned in 1982 to compete in the Peter Styvesant Classic which was based on Solent courses and totally cut out Torquay, even so another poor OP1 fleet was again decimated by sea conditions which included 6 foot waves at Christchurch ledge. His craft, again EGO but renamed ROTHMANS EGO after its sponsor the tobacco company is still powered by Mercruiser’s, of the 14 starters in the 179 mile race only 3 finished led by Rothmans Ego at a speed of 65.7 mph.

Not to be discouraged della Valle returned in 1982 to compete in the Peter Styvesant Classic which was based on Solent courses and totally cut out Torquay, even so another poor OP1 fleet was again decimated by sea conditions which included 6 foot waves at Christchurch ledge. His craft, again EGO but renamed ROTHMANS EGO after its sponsor the tobacco company is still powered by Mercruiser’s, of the 14 starters in the 179 mile race only 3 finished led by Rothmans Ego at a speed of 65.7 mph.

No longer resplendent in her Rothmans colours EGO returned to Cowes in 1983 to defend her title and although listed as Rothmans EGO was also known as EGO NOOXY her hull painted white, again still powered by Mercruiser’s, this time with an output of 1400 hp. The race once again returned to the old format down to Torquay and back, a total of 192 miles and of the 12 starters only 2 OP1 entrants and 2 OP2’s finished, led again by della Valle this time proving his worth over the full original course, he was closely followed by previous winner Alberto Smania in the similar boat Marlboro.

The weather for the CTC in 1984 was superb and the conditions on the course the smoothest ever and EGO is back for more, not only more but sporting a new sponsor, CINZANO and is again resplendant in a similar red white and blue livery to the Rothmans years. Another bonus for the Bank Holiday crowds is an upturn in both the number and quality of the entrants, although there were only 3 from outside Britain but the slightly shorter course of 165 miles still takes in the Torquay turn. It was a day waiting for records to be broken and as Cinzano swept back into Cowes they were, first the speed 76 mph then the equalling by della Valle of Tommy Sopwith’s record 3 wins, it seemed the Cowes Torquay was back on its pinnacle again and that was good news.

Race boats as you know change hands frequently and are often renamed this may be the case with EGO/CINZANO as her return to Cowes that year may have been as a new craft, she certainly had new engines, a pair of 800 hp Lamborghini’s.

Cinzano 1985

Cinzano 1985 Photo courtesy Graham Stevens

The reason that this may be a new craft for della Valle was firstly the new power house and secondly the appearance on the race scene of the Spelta family with an identical CUV called NOOXY which was Ego’s name in ’83, although the Spelta’s boat is powered by the soon to be dominant Isotta Fraschini diesels. As for the race there was a new format, it would be run in 2 stages the first down to Torquay where entrants would be refuelled then were flagged off for the race back to Cowes after a compulsory 1hr stop. The new format helped the race regain its prestige and a fine entry of 26 starters we flagged off on the combined 203 mile trip. For della Valle the competition was stiff, comprising the massive Stain mono Outsider with 3 IF diesels totalling 2250hp,the Spelta’s, Len Bylocks giant Buzzi NITRO and Ken Cassir driving the leased CUV Ideal Standard.

It was NITRO that sped into Torquay first, hotly pursued by NOOXY and CINZANO, the return trip left behind NITRO sinking at the dockside and NOOXY with flat batteries and although conditions were not perfect CINZANO stamped her authority on the return to Cowes leaving Outsider trailing in her wake and slowly sinking, the Spelta’s after finding some new batteries were playing catch up. Although the winners speed was down on the previous years, the winner of the 25th anniversary of the race was once again Mr Renato della Valle completing the first ever back to back of 3 consecutive wins in the CT and 4 overall victories ‘82,’83,’84 and’85. Would it last?

The Cowes Classic had once again been firmly established as the race to win even though the new format with the 1 hr stopover treated it as 2 separate races, the 1986 entry list saw another leap in the quality and quantity of the field with entries from Monaco, Sweden, Italy and France plus genuine British contenders after years in the wilderness.

Oh yes, that man was back again this time EGO is called after her sponsors EBERHARD & CO, maybe you do change your luck when you change a boats name, the Spelta’s NOOXY /FRESH & CLEAN took the big prize and Eberhard retired.

Renato returned in 87 with a new 42 CUV, PINOT de PINOT and EGO was traded between various owners all hoping for the magic of the 80’s to rub off on them, but it was not to be.

It was arrivederci no 558, so long Ego, we’ll meet again one day…

Recent Posts

Press Release 14th April 2019

Press Release – 14th April 2019

Embargoed until authorised by UKOPRA / COPC

Following the Classic Offshore Powerboat Club AGM at RAF Yacht Club today a presentation was held at their invite from UKOPRA to publish their new classes for historic racing which take immediate effect.

COPC as an existing avid supporter of the regenerated offshore racing scene in the UK had prior to that presentation formalised their affiliation with UKOPRA by unanimous decision in order to allow event organisation under their sanction.

Much work has gone on in the past months and UKOPRA are extremely grateful to the committee of COPC for their input and assistance in creating the new (old?).

Class 4 Historic

Sub Classes for Class 4 are as follows with offshore general rules to apply.

  • Runabout – Pre 1990 design to a maximum of 115 HP and 21 ft boat length.
  • Cruiser – Pre 1990 design with a maximum speed of 50 knots to be upheld.
  • Purpose designed – Pre 1990 design with a maximum speed of 60 knots to be upheld.

The aim is for historic boats to compete on the same courses as existing UKOPRA Offshore class boats with a reduced distance covered to reflect the need to preserve the historic equipment.

The points system to be allocated to this class of racing will take a form of only 25% coming from final race position with the remainder awarded to criteria relating to Presentation, Age, Spirit, Quality of restoration, Provenance etc.

In addition to the above the publication of new UIM rules relating to Pleasure Navigation now allows the following UIM Group B compliant boats to enter our offshore classes as follows.

  • UIM Promotion Class can enter UKOPRA 3A/B
  • UIM Production Class can enter UKOPRA 3X
  • UIM Super boat Sport S1 and S2 can enter UKOPRA 3N

Minimum levels of equipment carried will be as referred to in the UKOPRA general rules.

Records Weekend

With COPC now formally affiliated they are keen to run an additional event this year and have agreed to host

Performance Records

Event Organiser – Classic Offshore Powerboat Club.

Sanctioning body – UKOPRA

Date – To be advised but provisionally a weekend in late September / early October.

Location – To be advised although the Freshwater area of the Solent is favoured subject to permissions.

Eligibility – All UKOPRA classes with a minimum of two fully licenced offshore licence holders in control.

Course Measurement – Will be over 1 statute mile to be run in both directions and an average speed taken for the two runs.

There will be the opportunity for marine manufacturers to be measured subject to a suitable application and with a minimum of two UKOPRA licence holders in control of the vessel.

Whilst there is no requirement to be a member of any of our affiliated race organisers to take part in activities we do recommend you support them and any potential event sponsors would be gratefully welcomed.

2019 Poole Bay 100




Registration of vessels for any of the above classes will be opened on Monday 15th April 2019 which will add the owner to our databases for email contact.

Please subscribe to for further updates.

Sponsors interested in being involved with the series as a whole should in the first instance contact

  1. Renato (Sonny) Levi. Leave a reply
  2. SURFURY Leave a reply
  3. Westcraft of Topsham Leave a reply
  4. BELLA 2 Leave a reply
  5. Foam Flyer Leave a reply
  6. Here and Now Leave a reply
  7. A’speranziella Leave a reply
  8. S.E.Saunders Launch Leave a reply
  9. CT 1961 by Charles Lawrence Leave a reply