REIGNING TT Great Race 80 miles per hour category champion Heat Wave has added female firepower to its driver seat as the skillful Stephanie Llanos suits up to defend the vessel’s 2019 crown on Saturday.
Llanos joins her fiancé and throttleman Jason Costa behind the wheel and is intent on maintaining Heat Wave’s dominance of the inter-island route, having topped the field last year and powering to runner-up position in 2018.
Although the TT Great Race is a male-dominated event, the mixed team of Llanos and Costa plans to defy the odds and give opponents a run for their money.
The pair will be racing together for the first time, with Llanos making her entry into the sport supported by Costa’s seven years’ experience racing with Heat Wave.
Costa explained that Heat Wave’s usual driver opted to race with another team this year. He then asked Llanos, who agreed.
Llanos grew up around mechanics and is very comfortable and knowledgeable about engines. She became familiar with boats because of her relationship with Costa.
“The desire to compete in the Great Race was growing so I am very excited that an opportunity opened up for me this year. I’m really looking forward to it. It’s a very long race at 100 miles. A lot can happen and many boats break down.
“Sometimes it’s relatively calm and it’s an easy run to Tobago. Other times the water is really rough, we get banged up and it takes a toll on the body. We’re hoping for nice weather with calmer waters which also results in a faster race. Look out for us in the top three!” she exclaimed.
On Saturday, the TT Power Boat Association (TTPBA) hosts the 52nd edition of the race. Twenty-nine boats in six different race classes launch off from William’s Bay in Chaguaramas at 7am. Nine boats will vie for honours in the 60 mph, four in the 70 mph and eight in the 80 mph.
However, Mr Solo will be gunning for his 19th win this year and there will be a few newcomers in his 130 mph class intent on staging an upset.
Owing to covid19 restrictions, the 2020 regatta will feature several changes to its programme. The race will again be streamed live on the TTPBA and bmobile’s (sponsor) Facebook pages.
Over 100,000 people worldwide viewed the live stream last year and the viewership is expected to be even larger this year because of the cancellation of many power boat races because of the pandemic.
He stated, “We will miss the crowds cheering us on at the start and at the end but with the live streaming, we know they will be cheering us on from the safety of their homes this year.”
TTPBA secretary Sheldon Edghill thanked bmobile for being the technology partner of the race for a second consecutive year.
He added, “This year bmobile is once again supporting us by providing the technology behind the race. Bmobile is assisting with the live streaming of the event, as well as with the GPS tracking of the boats. Because of bmobile’s sponsorship, race fans can stay home and watch the race. It’s wonderful that a corporate partner like bmobile will come on-board for a second time this year.”
Edghill has also been racing for 14 years and has been the driver for the Energizer boat in the 95 mph class for a decade. Energizer are also reigning champions in this category.
Ian Galt, TSTT’s general manager Enterprise Services commended the TTPBA for hosting the world's longest running offshore powerboat race for yet another year and extended his best wishes to all the teams for a safe and successful Great Race.
“We are proud to be the technology partner for the Great Race for a second year and will continue to support the sustainable development of our national sports.”