With the news that the BPRC (organisers of the Cowes-Torquay-Cowes event) has taken the OCRDA route and cast themselves off from the RYA, the next few months could be quite interesting as with Thundercats and Powerboat P1 the only UK clubs left that are still affiliated to the UK governing body for powerboat racing, no one knows how this will affect next year’s competition or who will issue the BPRC’s racing licences.
This is a situation that has been brewing for some years, and whilst this could all be very good news for the powerboat scene in the UK the problem could have been resolved as long ago as 2013. The reigning powerboat racing manager at the time was John Puddifoot who was concerned with the low turnouts at several meetings, and the lack of co-operation between clubs. He asked David Sewell if he had any bright ideas how the situation might be resolved, and with major support from Bob McCarthy, Chairman of OCRDA, a meeting was convened at a hotel in Salisbury attended by almost everyone representing UK clubs. The proposal was that a regatta type championship would be created involving all clubs together, and events would be staged at venues throughout the UK.
The gathered representatives were very positive about the proposal with just three exceptions who felt they would prefer to remain a big fish in a small pond. The Regatta concept required unanimous support to succeed and as we all know, it never got off the ground. Puddifoot was disillusioned by the outcome while McCarthy decided to go his own way which as we now know was the right thing to do as the number of competitors in this year’s calendar has increased by at least 30%. He was naturally quite apprehensive about going it alone and took a while to make a decision, but with almost 100% support from OCRDA members at their 2016 AGM, they decided to go ahead.
After a hugely successful 2017 season with fleets of 35+ at each meeting, other clubs that have been sitting on the fence must be having second thoughts about staying with the RYA, and already the IPRC announced their departure in early August after an extraordinary general meeting of the club.
What effect all this will have on UK offshore racing remains to be seen, but the general opinion seems to be that if the RYA are to continue running the UK’s offshore scene it really needs to reinvent itself and start listening to the people who are investing their time and money in the sport.