by Emma Slater
On Thursday 15 August, the RYA and Powerboat P1 officially unveiled two new GT15 powerboats that will be used as part of the new UIM Youth Development Training programme.
Anya and Ben testing the new GT15’s
The training programme is being developed to help more youngsters get involved in the sport of powerboat racing as John Puddifoot, RYA Powerboat Racing Manager explains: 'This is a new initiative being driven by the UIM, the international powerboat racing governing body and other national authorities. The RYA, in association with Powerboat P1, are taking the lead role in developing the project and trialling the first pilot which starts today with the unveiling of the two boats.'
Three time European Champion, four time British Champion, three time sprint champion and UK masters winner in the GT15 Ben Jelf, aged 13, and Pro Jet Ski racer and seven time world stand up jet ski racer Anya Colley were given the honour of being the first to drive the new boats and put them through their initial testing.
Anya commented: 'I’ve never driven anything like this before but I’m really excited. They are very low compared to what I’m used to, it should be great fun.'
The GT15’s are small single seat boats designed specifically for youngsters aged nine upwards. Powered by a 15 horse power engine they are capable of speeds of around 35-40mph.
With around 15-20 GT15’s currently racing in the UK the aim of the programme is to use these boats to extend participation out to schools, yacht clubs and interested groups around the country to build a strong foundation for powerboat racing in the future.
left to right - Robert Wicks - P1, Andrew Norton - RYA, Anya Colley, Ben Jelf and John Puddifoof
'Entry level for the programme will be nine years old, but from 8 ½ for the theory and safety training purposes', explained John. 'There’s more to the programme than just getting out on the water and going fast. Based around the RYA powerboat level 1 course, we aim to build on that to train youngsters in specifics aspects of powerboat racing and elements connected with racing itself. Most importantly it’s to train youngsters in safety and water awareness skills at an early age and hopefully see them progress through the sport in to some of the senior classes as they get to enjoy the sport and progress.
'Ultimately we hope the programme will encourage more youngsters into the sport so we can be competitive both nationally and internationally and hopefully start winning some serious events abroad on a regular basis and increase our standing as a leading powerboat country.'
Robert Wicks, Chief Operating Officer, Powerboat P1 added: 'For Powerboat P1 there are two fundamental aspects to our involvement. Firstly, we are always looking at ways to give something back to the sport and secondly we are always on the hunt for new talent. This programme provides a starting point for racers of the future, something the sport has been lacking for some time. P1 will be keeping a very close eye on the youngsters taking part; it’s a great opportunity to identify new talent and build a solid foundation for the future of the sport.'
Over the coming months the RYA will assess how the programme will work best for the UK and be developing and trialling the training programme, testing the boats and ensuring the training centres are set up to conform with RYA requirements, as well as providing the instructors with the experience they need to teach the youngsters to the level required.
The RYA and P1 will be presenting a full report and training syllabus to all powerboating national authorities at the UIM General Assembly in Auckland, New Zealand in October and youngsters can expect to be able to start signing up for the programme from early 2014.
To find out more about powerboat racing visit RYA