The annual Great Race, now in its 50th year, could do much for Tobago and the development of sport tourism on the island, Acting President of the Trinidad and Tobago Powerboat Association (TTPBA),Roger Bell, said on Saturday.
Bell, speaking with Newsday Tobago at the end of race at Store Bay, called on the Government to come aboard.
“We are behind Sport Tourism… the TTPBA has now gone International having been sanctioned by the UIM (Union of Internationale Montonautique). I would like the Government to step up, I know it is very hard times and there are lots on their plate but Sports Tourism… we can get people here from as far as Abu Dhabi, Europe and North America to race in our waters,” he said.
The race took off from the the Foreshore in Port of Spain ending at Store Bay in Tobago, with a record 38 boats participating, one of which was a foreign entrant.
Bell described the event as ‘fantastic.’
“The big thing for me is that everybody is safe. It was a very, very fast race because we had what we would consider abnormal conditions… the sea was very calm which is not the norm in Great Race history,” he said.
Bell also said that event though the race’s biggest sponsor, Carib, pull out since in 2016, theye has not been a a decline in other support for the event.
“Carib pulled out in 2016 so the 2017 Great Race was run with a host of sponsors. Our belief is that the Great Race belongs to the country, it’s a brand that is now 50 years old and the name has been changed to the Trinidad and Tobago Great Race. So now there is no title sponsor, but people come and support us from private companies in different forms and fashions. The race has been well, it is doing very well. 2017 was a great year with Mr Solo winning and (with the race) going back into Store Bay,” Bell said.
But just what keeps the event afloat?
“The races keep it afloat… the entrants are passionate about the races and we do have small sponsors, but we don’t have title sponsors anymore. We have been able to put on a fantastic Great Race and we have not cut back on anything in terms of expenditure, in particular safety,” Bell said.
Newsday Tobago also caught up with Lucas Oil’s throttleman, Nigel Hook, who described the experience as "really good competition."
“The water was really, really calm. We had some luck today, we had a bit of luck but to race against such really good competition...we tried to make it up at the end.This has been an incredible weekend, it took us a week to get here but the whole of Trinidad and Tobago has made us feel so welcome. We were a little worried coming into the Caribbean, we’re the only foreign entry in the last 29 years but this has really been fantastic, it really lived up to its name, ‘Great Race’,” Hook said.
Lucas Oil’s Account Executive, Jeff Carles is considering a return to the 2019 event.
“We’d like to, we hope so, we’d love to. Not many places like Trinidad and Tobago so we’ll definitely have to take a look and do some planning and see if we can figure out, but we’ll love to come back here. It was a great race, the people are phenomenon… and we love some boat race,” he said.