19 August 2016

P1 Welsh Grand Prix of the Sea 2016

Cardiff Bay, 28 & 29 August 

A fleet of mighty powerboats belting across the waters at 70mph, jet ski acrobatics, hydroflyers performing impossible stunts – it’s all happening at Cardiff Bay over the August bank holiday weekend, with two days of high-adrenalin action.

Powerboat and jet ski racing returns to the Bay for a third year as part of the Cardiff Harbour Festival, a fabulous weekend of water and land-based fun for everyone – and it’s all free. The 11 powerboats, including our very own Visit Wales racer, and more than 30 jet ski riders will be competing in the fourth round of the P1 national championships. There’ll also be spectacular hydroflight (water-jet-powered skateboards, basically) and jet-ski freestyle displays to enjoy.

P1 Welsh Grand Prix of the Sea, Cardiff Bay

P1 Welsh Grand Prix of the Sea, Cardiff Bay

 by P1 SuperStock

Cardiff Bay is the perfect setting, with grandstand views from wherever you are on the waterfront. The action begins at around 11am on both Sunday and Monday.
We’ll be cheering on the Visit Wales boat which, like its rivals, is a 28ft (8.5m) P1 Panther that’s powered by a 250hp engine, taking it to speeds of more than 70mph (112km/h). We’ll also be enjoying a bit of friendly rivalry with a Pertemps Network boat that’s crewed by a brother-and-sister crew from Saundersfoot. South West Wales, Sam and Daisy Coleman are definitely the team to beat – the Pembrokeshire pair are currently leading the championship table.  It’s going to be a thriller, as Robert Wicks, P1’s chief operating officer, explains: 

What makes P1 racing so exciting?

All the boats are identical, so it all boils down to the quality of the crew inside, the driver and navigator. It’s very much close-quarters racing, which is what makes it so thrilling to watch.

Um… Cardiff Bay isn’t that big. Why do you need a navigator?

The navigator’s role is essential. They’re constantly looking around to see what the other boats are up to, which is vital when you’re doing 70mph at such close quarters. The driver’s focused on looking ahead and driving the boat, and the navigator’s giving feedback, just like in rally driving.

How many races are there over the two days?

The Bay isn’t like racing out on the open sea, so we run them in heats, four boats at a time. There’s practice and qualifying on Sunday morning, then heats in the afternoon. On Monday there are more heats and then the top boats compete in the final.

P1 Welsh Grand Prix of the Sea, Cardiff Bay

P1 Welsh Grand Prix of the Sea, Cardiff Bay by P1 SuperStock

What makes Cardiff Bay so good?

Cardiff Bay is fantastic because it’s a natural amphitheatre. Whether you’re at St David’s Hotel or Mermaid Quay, on the Barrage or at the Norwegian Church, you’re going to have a fantastic view and get up close and personal. And the teams really enjoy coming to Cardiff, because they always get a warm welcome.

What else is there to see?

Lots. We have jet ski races, which come in a couple of categories. The big sit-down ones are as fast as the power boats, they’re very quick. The stand-up, or sprint, races tend to be shorter and much more technical. Then there’s freestyle jet-skiing and displays, and lots of activities on the land.

So who should we root for (apart from the Visit Wales boat, OBVIOUSLY)?

Visit Wales have a new crew this time out, so it’ll be really interesting to see how they get on. Then you have the brother-and-sister team of Sam and Daisy Coleman from Saundersfoot. Sam runs the family hotel down there, and Daisy’s ex-Army. They’re a great pairing - really very competitive, and right in the hunt.