October 1st – 5th 2014 will see intense powerboat racing come to Gibraltar, in its first time hosting an international event. The sport came to Gibraltar in 2013 during the British National Championships, hosted in Eastern Beach, in association with ThunderCat Racing UK and the international governing body UIM. The event was a tremendous success, with local crews participating alongside the UK and a glowing reception from participants and audience alike. UIM Now wants to take Gibraltar onto the international stage by hosting the European Championship. An event which will feature teams from all national authorities including Russia, Sweden, Norway, UK, Republic of Ireland, Germany, France and Belgium.
The P750, better known as the Thundercat or Zapcat is a particular kind of inflatable catamaran, infamous for light weight and high speed. Because the boats are so light, they can reach speeds of over 90 km/h and jump up to 6 metres in the air. The hi-jackers underneath the inflatable hulls give incredible traction, enabling high cornering speeds through any conditions. Crews consist of a pilot and a co-pilot. The pilot drives from the rear, while the co-pilot uses his weight to adjust the trim of the boat.
The sport is very spectator friendly; taking place right by the shores on Eastern Beach which is great for anyone looking to get up close and personal with the roar of the engines, or even photographers looking for the ideal shots of the vessels charging through the waves or leaping in the air. The different days will also offer a variety of race types; teams will arrive on the 1st October for set up, Thursday 2nd October will be the “Long-Haul” event, which is said to “Separate the men from the mice” it is an endurance course where teams will be sent off down the coast to specific locations where they beach the boat and run to the checkpoint. The course will take the racers on an 80km circuit around The Rock. Starting at Eastern beach and going past Europa Point to Western Beach.
Day 2-3 on will take place on Eastern Beach for the Circuit and Surf racing events. Circuit is identified with traditional speed boats raced on buoyed courses, while the surf event is run traditionally at surf beaches which provide spectacular jumps, thrills and spills with boats reaching 80kph in as little as 300mm of water. The teams battle it out over several laps on a rectangular shaped course running parallel to the shoreline . The finish is dramatic as boats skid up the beach for co-pilots to leap out the front of their boats and run to the finish line.
Friday the 5th will be a “Lay Day” where the teams will have the opportunity to test their crafts or rest and enjoy Gibraltar’s iconic tourist attractions. Considering how taken the participants were with Gibraltar’s hosting in the April 2013 event, no doubt competitors will be found exploring more than just the waters.
Thrill seekers will find plenty to keep them occupied in the first week of October; an event that will feature teams from every European country with a Thundercat series, promising to be “The ultimate showdown” for the sport.