P1 Superstock - London Rookies at sharp end

Team 88 make a splash (sorry...) in their first season - next round at Cowes - great day out for petrolheads if you have never been to one of these meetings

Rookie London Crew Taking Powerboat Racing By Storm

London, Monday 15 August - One of the biggest on-the-water events of the year, the British Powerboat Festival, takes place at Cowes on the Isle of Wight on Saturday/Sunday, 27th/28th Auigist and among the front-running crews taking part will be London pairing Simon Bayles (Battersea) and Philippa Baker (Kensington).

Currently equal second in the spectacular P1 SuperStock Championship – the UK’s premier national powerboat racing series – Bayles and Baker have taken the sport by storm in 2011 with a series of truly sensational performances. Most impressive though is the fact the Team 88 crew is in its first season!

Three P1 SuperStock events have taken place so far this year, in Jersey, Plymouth and Hull, and at each venue the London pairing has continued to belie its distinct lack of experience with some terrific results. In Jersey, Team 88 finished an excellent fifth on its debut but in race two sent major waves through the sport by securing a sensational second place finish for a maiden podium result.

“We’re really very pleased with how things have gone so far”, says Bayles, “We’re going quickly and to be second equal in the championship is fantastic. Cowes will be a major test though, the first full endurance off-shore race. We’ve raced in bays, raced on a river and now the big one out at sea from Cowes to Poole and back."

“Once again we’re in the land of not knowing what to expect so we are a bit nervous, but if it’s not overly rough I think we’ll be ok. We’re not going there to lose, put it that way! Our aim is to start trying to push rival boats, Edox and Pertemps, and see whether we can challenge them.”

Edox and Pertemps are two of the most experienced crews in P1 SuperStock, but Team 88 is most certainly edging closer and closer as the season progresses. The upcoming Cowes event, which will take place on 27/28 August, is the fourth of five championship events on the 2011 calendar with the series – dubbed ‘Race to Liverpool’ – concluding on Merseyside next month.

Due to their rookie status, Bayles and Baker have to start each of the points-scoring ‘Enduro’ races from the lowest spot on the starting grid on the grounds of safety – making their performances this year all the more impressive. Clearly a sensible regulation, it’s nonetheless a frustrating one for Team 88 as the crew is consistently one of the quickest in the head-to-head Match Racing qualifiers.

So remarkable has Team 88’s debut season been, a major new sponsor has already been attracted and for the Cowes event the boat’s livery will reflect the deal with Swiss wealth management company PaLü Partner AG.

“We’re absolutely delighted with the new sponsorship deal with PaLü Partner – it’s a top wealth management company in Switzerland”, adds Bayles, “Paul Lüdin, the founder and CEO, sponsors sports like professional golf and sailing but this is the company’s first venture into powerboat racing, so we’re very excited and hopeful the partnership will develop.”

Prior to his involvement in powerboat racing, Bayles played semi-professional rugby so the competitive urge and will to win is engrained in the London businessman’s psyche. Clearly the two sports are from different ends of the spectrum but are there any similarities in terms of the fitness required to succeed?

“It’s worlds apart, a different type of physicality altogether. Since I’ve started racing in P1 SuperStock I’ve gone back into rugby training to get fitter again. There is a definite element of fitness required to race these boats and there’s a lot of mentality involved. In the second race in Hull, for example, I couldn’t rest at all. It really does demand a lot of concentration and focus, especially in rougher conditions.”