ON SATURDAY, 25 boats will compete to be crowned Great Race champion when they launch from Williams Bay in Chaguaramas at 7 am. The occasion will be the 51st anniversary of the TT Great Race, hosted by the TT Power Boat Association (TTPBA) and part sponsored by Bmobile.
Among the teams will be one of the pre-race favourites, 17-times winner, Ken Charles, with his boat Mr Solo.
Crowned as the ‘King of the Seas’ for holding the most wins in the history of the race, Charles was also recognised as one of TT’s 50 Greatest Legends in Sport as part of the 50th Independence celebrations.
With his last win in 2017, Charles is hoping to capture an unprecedented 18th Great Race title this year.
As a power boat racer since 1962 and founding TTPBA member, Charles has witnessed the growth of the race over the years.
“At the beginning, the races were more for fun and as a hobby. We now have world-class boats and we have moved to professional racing. The TTPBA was formed to promote the race and drive growth in the sport. We are now in the 51st year with the longest running offshore powerboat race in the world,” said Charles.
The evergreen Charles added that the Great Race is a true ocean race and is now recognised internationally.
“The Union Internationale Motonautique (UIM), the international governing body of power boating, was very impressed with the organisation and safety features of the Great Race and invited us to join the UIM last year.”
Charles started racing since 1962. He was building the iconic Mr Solo in 1969 with Brian Bowen which is why he did not take part in the inaugural Great Race.
From the moment Charles entered the competition in 1970 and made headlines by winning his debut race, the Great Race and the names Ken Charles and Mr Solo became forever entwined as he went on to win in 1972, 1975, 1978, 1981, 1985, 1996, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2017.
Charles is looking forward to reclaiming his crown this year.
“I have learnt over the years that although we double and triple check before a race, once you get out in the open sea and you are jumping 12 to 15 feet in the air and slamming back down, anything can happen,” Charles said. “It depends a lot on skill and luck. Every time you finish a race it’s like the first time.”
He added, “This is going to be a real Great Race. It will be an open race this year between Paramount, Cat Killer and Mr Solo. To my competitors, I wish you all the best of luck and a safe race because that’s the most important thing.”
Marcus Gomez, TTPBA president, extended his best wishes to all the teams for a safe race and thanked bmobile for their sponsorship which covers the safety costs of the race.
“This year’s race is shaping up to be a very exciting one with 20 boats spread across six different classes. Charles has his new engines in and we are looking forward to seeing if he can use those years of experience to fend off the other competitors in his class. It is going to be a close one this year and if the water conditions allow, we can expect some tight battles and see some very fast times.”
Gomez also discussed new race features to be introduced this year.
“In the past there was only one overall winner of the Great Race. From this year, the winning time of the teams in each racing class will be recorded and from next year, anyone who breaks a record will be recognised and awarded for breaking the record.
“We expect a very thrilling race since there is now an added motivation for participants to be more competitive and to be recognised as the champion in each class. ”
Marsha Caballero, TSTT’s Senior Manager Corporate Communications shared that the company is pleased to partner with the TTPBA to help ensure the annual competition is safe.