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Powerboat thrills for Lowestoft team

PUBLISHED: 09:52 21 July 2009 | UPDATED: 10:58 06 July 2010

HIGH-SPEED thrills will mix with sun, sea and sand as the world's largest offshore powerboat race series heads back to the east coast this weekend.

Thousands of visitors are expected to watch as 20 boats in 150hp and 225hp classes appear off Lowestoft in the Honda Formula 4-Stroke powerboat grand prix series.

HIGH-SPEED thrills will mix with sun, sea and sand as the world's largest offshore powerboat race series heads back to the east coast this weekend.

Thousands of visitors are expected to watch as 20 boats in 150hp and 225hp classes appear off Lowestoft in the Honda Formula 4-Stroke powerboat grand prix series.

The event follows the 13th Lowestoft Seafront Air Festival which runs on Thursday and Friday and is now the seventh-biggest air show in Europe.

The powerboat grand prix course features a long straight which runs along the beach-front, while a tight chicane close to the pier offers a look at the dramatic action.

The Lowestoft-based Lings Honda team is hoping for a good show in Miss Toft II after coming second in the town last year. The team won the 150hp Championship in 2007 and will compete this year in the 225hp powerboat race.

David Cowley, 27, driver of the two-man team, who lives in Scratby, near Yarmouth, said: “We're lying third in the grand prix championship after two races but are only five points off the top.

“We're pretty confident as the boat is quicker than it's ever been and I've hopefully matured as a driver.

“We're also in home waters and will have home support.”

He said the great thing about the event was that the winner was not always the team with the most expensive boat.

He added: “It does not matter how much your boat costs, as it all comes down to the skill of the driver and the team's preparation for the event.

“Our boat can do 70mph in any conditions, so there will be lots of thrill and spills.

“There will be three races per class on the weekend with Lings competing in one on Saturday and two on Sunday.

“After Lowestoft we're off to Cowes in the Isle of Wight and the final grand prix event is on the Isle of Man. We have already competed in Pwllheli, North Wales, and Plymouth.”

The team has two navigators who will take turns with Mr Cowley - Chris Jary, 40, from Harleston, and Paul Barkshire, 46, from Attle- borough, who said: “There's a lot of pressure because we're on home turf but we remain relaxed and we've got our strategy to carry out.”

Mr Barkshire added: “We're quite confident. One of the great positives is that we get such fantastic support here. It's a 'win-win' for the town and for the economy.

“This is the third year the race series has been in Lowestoft which is no mean feat. It takes a lot of organising and without the support of the air show we would not be here.

“This is a special year for Honda as it marks Honda's 50th year of racing, and it's also the 10th year of the Formula 4-Stroke series.”

Previous years have been great successes. In both 2007 and 2008 the powerboats raced in front of crowds of over 90,000.

The powerboat races start on Saturday and Sunday at 11am. For more information see www.f4sa.com.

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