Newcastle upon Tyne

Power boat racing on the Tyne

Power boats on Newcastle River Tyne

Fast, dangerous and noisy or sleek and sexy?

Woke up this morning and felt the sudden urge for some sporting action!

Adrenalin-fuelled power boating to be precise.

Power boating is like an aquatic Formula One race but on water and with obstacles.

They do share one thing in common though – they’re both about guys going fast in flimsy looking machines.

Last time I saw power boats in action it was 25 years ago. One of the heavy-duty large boats missed its turn on the course and crashed into the river wall.

The huge thud reverberated loudly down the River Tyne.

Fortunately the guys driving the power boat were OK, if a little shaken up, which is more than can be said for their boat.  It was a complete write-off.

Power burst

This weekend power boating was back on the Tyne in my home town of Newcastle. This time the boats were smaller and more agile – although I’m sure there are still risks if the driver loses concentration or co-ordination.

The Zapcat Grand Prix is a new Grand Prix race which tours Britain. It’s supposedly safer and less elitist than the old-fashioned type of power boat racing that I saw two decades ago.

There’s a standard design of boat which competitors race on ‘an even playing field’ (so says the website) or perhaps that should’ve read ‘even waterway’?

As we walked down to the Quayside, we could hear the roar of the engines and the smell of the fuel before arriving on the river banks.

Then it was down to business with action from the race heats against the spectacular backdrop of the river front, the Millennium and Tyne Bridges.

Race ahoy!

Zapcat Grand Prix power boats

Spinning around the turns

So it was down to the Grand Prix racing for some fast and furious action – at around 45 mph.

Hairpin turns and short straight sections make this a tricky ride especially when the boats hit the sharp bends.

There was just one problem – nobody seemed to know what on earth was going on!

Last time I watched power boat racing there was a great buzz with a commentator creating a real sense of anticipation and excitement.

This time the commentary was sporadic and uninformative with no analysis of the race, the teams nor any explanation of how the competition worked.

Frustrating it most certainly was.

Who had won heat six? Was it the orange boat with the whizzy graphics or the blue Royal Marines vessel which seemed to be leading the field before the other brightly-coloured boat mysteriously appeared?

Who are the stars of the national Grand Prix circuit and were we watching them?

None of these questions were answered.

The trouble with watching motor and cycle sports is that you need to have some idea of what’s going on with a commentary team – or at very least some background information about the race.

I had the same problem with the Tour of Britain cycle race when it whizzed by a few years back.

Oh well, the power boat racing did look pretty spectacular so we captured some great action on the camera.

Enjoy these shots of the race… meanwhile, I’m off to Google the Grand Prix website to find out who did win the trophy!

Thanks to Tony for the camera work…

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