Safety costs could sink Great Race

In this August 17, 2019 file photo, Mr Solo takes part in the annual Great Race. Solo won the 130mph class.  - Ronald Daniel
In this August 17, 2019 file photo, Mr Solo takes part in the annual Great Race. Solo won the 130mph class. - Ronald Daniel

THE anticipated TT Great Race is still uncertain for August 22, as the TT Powerboat Association (TTPBA) is hoping for Government approval. Even if the Government approves the event, organisers would be forced to cancel this year’s event if limited sponsorship forces the TTPBA to reduce safety measures.

If the Great Race takes place this year it will be the 52nd edition of the race. Last year’s event started at Williams Bay in Chaguaramas and ended at Store Bay in Tobago. The covid19 pandemic brought all global and local sporting events to a halt in March. Over the last few weeks, sporting events have been resuming gradually. Exercising and non-contact sports are now being permitted locally with most other sports expected to be allowed from next Monday. Marcus Gomez, president of the TTPBA, said, “We still waiting on Government to open which I guess is not until the end of this month so, we just waiting right now on those things.”

Gomez said the Great Race, if held, would be a new-look event in 2020. “The plan is to have it as safe as possible within the Government’s perimeters and suggestions, so it would be likely a Great Race without spectators gathering to watch the race.”

Concerning sponsorship for this year, Gomez said it has been challenging and money has to be spent to ensure safety. “It is very tough. If we don’t get enough sponsorship the race won’t be possible because safety is a big expense in a race such as Great Race. If we don’t get enough sponsorship to cover safety it won’t make sense having the race. All those are things that we are working on and we do have some interest from last year’s sponsors, but I think everybody is still waiting to see the Government’s move.” Last year, Bmobile and the National Lotteries Control Board were among the sponsors.

Gomez said one of the main safety measures is ensuring that proper systems are in place to track the location of the boats. All the boats have multiple GPS units which allow the race organisers to know the location of all the boats. Every year several boats break down during the race, therefore the TTPBA needs to keep in contact with all the competitors.

The TTPBA president said the competitors have been struggling financially also. “They are all feeling it right now too, but we are going to try to do what we can with the race fees and so on, not make it as difficult as possible. We still have to cover expenses, so it is only so much we can do.”

Last year Energiza won the 95 mile per hour (mph) class and was the first to Tobago. Mr Solo Too won the 130 mph class, the category featuring the fastest boats.

Gomez said on Monday night the TTPBA was scheduled to meet to chart a way forward. “A lot of people asking, so we have been letting them know we still trying to have Great Race...but with these times nothing is set in stone. We could have a spike and the country gets closed back down and that is going to change everything. Right now everything pretty much is kind of up in the air, but we letting the racers prepare for August 22.”


"Safety costs could sink Great Race"

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