FORMER TT Power Boat Association (TTPBA) vice president Roger Bell has replaced veteran Darin Marshall as throttleman for powerboat Mr Solo Too at this year’s TT Great Race which takes place on Saturday.
Having served as a prolific, title-winning throttleman over the past two decades, Marshall is unable to compete at the 2020 edition due to the closure of the national borders owing to covid19 restrictions. He is presently based in Canada.
Marshall’s absence serves as the second major change for the 130 miles-per-hour class vessel as Devindra Joseph also replaced Irishman Gino Fusco as navigator/mechanic.
Bell and Joseph joined forces with renowned driver Ken Charles and are gunning for the boat’s 19th race crown.
Although this year’s team is a relatively new combination, Charles believes the three-man squad has the experience to produce a race-winning performance over lone (130 mph) class opponent, Big Thunder.
The team has been familiarising themselves on the water for the past couple weeks and remain confident ahead of the annual inter-island event, which will begin at the Foreshore in Mucurapo and end at Store Bay, Tobago.
“Bell and I did a couple runs together and we seem to be clicking well. You have to understand each other. There may be a couple hiccups but with I’m sure with our experience we would get over that. Joseph and Shaheed Mohammed have been working on getting the boat ready and into ship shape,” said Charles.
Charles and his teammates took the boat for a test run in the Gulf of Paria, on Thursday, fine tuning the last details ahead of Saturday’s race.
“We ran it today (Thursday) and it went well," Charles said. "We had no damage to our propellers. The last two occasions when we went out to run we damaged the propellers and had to have them repaired. Fortunately, we ran to day and everything went well. We’re hoping for everything to go well.
“In this sport you have to be well-prepared because anything can happen depending on the conditions of the water. So far it seems to be three to four foot swells and we’re not sure what to expect going across the shallows. We have thoroughly checked everything we possible could, we are ready,” he added.
According to Charles, the pandemic has forced several of the bigger boats to sit out this year’s race due to financial challenges. Prior to the Government-implemented stay at home measures in mid-March, Charles and his team ensured to get in a lot of pre-season preparations.
This year’s race regulations owing to the covid19 pandemic mandate that participants, upon their arrival at Store Bay, have a bite, cool down a bit and then return to Trinidad before day’s end.
Charles concluded, “Covid19 hasn’t hampered preparations. We took everything into consideration and we are ready. We’re trying to get as prepared as possible. We’re looking forward to an enjoyable race. Wishing all the competitors all the best and that we all reach safely.”
For the second consecutive year, the TT Power Boat Association (TTPBA) introduces live streaming of the event. Their enhanced online delivery is of added importance this time around as organisers seek to promote indoor viewership in light of the pandemic.
The race will be streamed via TTPBA’s Facebook page and along other social media platforms of supporting entities.
The event, which was originally carded for August 22, was postponed due to the Government’s coronavrius safety measures. However, after securing Government approval, the TTPBA was then allowed to host the annual race on Saturday once the mandatory physical distancing procedures are implemented.