AFTER A one-year hiatus from the TT Great Race, two-time 70 miles-per-hour champion powerboat Fire Chief II anticipates a competitive return to the inter-island race.
The sibling combination of Kimo Sheafe (driver/throttleman) and Shamba Sheafe (navigator) has already tasted victory in this category on two occasions – 2017 and 2018 – and are intent on making waves at this year’s edition.
Fire Chief II made its TT Great Race debut in 2016 and had a baptism of fire as they were unable to complete the 100-mile distance due to a damaged engine.
After dominant performances in the following two years, the Sheafe brothers captured the TT Powerboat Association (TTPBA) award for ‘season champion’ in 2018. However, they were unable to participate in 2019 due to financial issues.
Although 2020 seemed to be shaping up like the previous, the brothers were blessed with a monetary olive branch by a close friend, which confirmed their participation at the meet’s 52nd staging.
“This year, with the covid19 situation, a good friend of mine decided to square the field for me financially, and now I’m able to participate,” said Kimo on Wednesday.
He admitted the pandemic has forced suppliers of marine equipment to raise their prices on essential parts while some were totally out of stock owing to economic repercussions of the novel virus.
Undeterred, the Sheafe brothers pressed on and remain confident ahead of Saturday’s Great Race, which was recently given the go-ahead by the TT Government to be hosted under strict covid19 protocols.
“There were certain items I was unable to get for the boat because of the high prices. Covid19 has forced some suppliers to increase their prices because all we all know, business has slowed down generally.
“I used a lot of time this year getting my boat ready. I’m anticipating a good return to the course. This year, the competition will be a bit stiff because there (are) five boats in my category. The last two years there were only three competing boats, so it’s a bit sticky this time around,” he added.
While eager to return to the north coast waters, Kimo admitted this year’s competitors would miss out on the banter and camaraderie usually associated with the TT Great Race prize-giving ceremony in Tobago.
He, however, respected the regulations set out by the TT Government and organisers of the annual event.
He concluded, “We got an exemption to compete so we’re grateful. When we reach to Tobago, organisers want us to come back in by Sunday. No liming on the beach, no congregating. The rules were made clear by the TTPBA so we must adhere to them. I’m confident Fire Chief II would give them a challenge on the seas this year.”