NEWLY ELECTED TT Powerboat Association president Chris Skinner plans to devise new initiatives to attract more foreign-based competitors and sponsors to participate and/or invest in the TT Great Race.
Skinner was elected on Monday, at the association’s annual general meeting. He replaced Marcus Gomez and will serve a two-year term.
Paul Foster was elected vice-president. Alfred Bell and Richard Ramdwar will serve as treasurer and secretary respectively.
Peter Peake, Roger Bell, Colin Mouser, Trevor Sun, Ajmal Mustapha, Anthony Scott, Robert Lobo and Jeremy Welch were also elected committee members.
Skinner, a former boatman, is intent on strengthening ties with the sport’s global governing body – International Powerboat Racing Club (UIM) – to aid the development of the annual inter-island race.
“The committee, so far, wants to forge a closer relationship with the UIM and have the Great Race listed on their calendar. With that, we can put world records within the different speed brackets/classes of the Great Race. This way, everyone has an opportunity to challenge for a world record,” he said.
Skinner says the ability to achieve world-record status at the annual event will attract foreign competition.
“Foreigners and locals will now have a chance to chase records,” Skinner said. “It will increase participation. It’s not a huge sport globally and people are looking for challenges around the world. If a hobbyist sees he has a chance to break a world record in TT, he would be inspired to compete at the Great Race.”
Skinner also believes safety is of utmost concern. Having witnessed two deaths during powerboat regattas in his earlier years of competing, he intends to place much emphasis on this.
Back in the 90s, Skinner raced with the powerboat Motom.
Although the vessel is, at present, non-functional, it is expected to be revived within the next two years.
He also represented TT at the 1999 World Championships in Key West, Florida, US, and participated in a number of regional regattas.
Skinner has not been directly involved in powerboat racing for a number of years. His late father, Bob, served as a local administrator back in 1969 when the first TT Great Race sped off.
His recent return to the association was fueled by legendary boatman Ken “Mr Solo” Charles. Charles nominated Skinner to the presidential slate and he was eventually selected.
“I couldn’t say no (when nominated). I was born into a powerboat racing family. It is a challenge and big responsibility because it’s a dangerous sport and we have to put on safe racing. Safe racing is a priority. We have a good formula but I’m not going to reinvent the wheel,” he noted.
Skinner is also intent on keeping the association alive during these turbulent financial times owing to the covid19 pandemic. He wants to ensure the fraternity stays afloat and also be able to put on races for its members.
“We were able to get the Great Race under way, thankfully. However, we have not been able to put on regattas. Sponsorship is a bit difficult at this time,” he said.
Committee member Roger Bell also heaped praise on Skinner’s appointment and said the fraternity is in good hands moving forward.
“Chris is a successful businessman who comes from a family who are now in their third generation of racing. Chris will lead a strong team that will include Peter Peake, Alfred Bell, Richard Ramdwar and Roger Bell, who have all held positions of president, vice-president and secretary in past TTPBA executive committees,” he said.