The Great Race is held annually and is a 116 mile offshore powerboat race from Tinidad to Tobago. 2015 was a particularly epic year, Total Monster clinched the hat trick, the first turbine boat competed, the seas were extremely rough, and a boat was lost (thankfully the crew were rescued safely).
Vortex, who used to be called Auqamania and whose team consisted of throttleman Alan Sabeeney, driver Nigel Bhagan, and navigator Roger Bell, was the new kid on the block and was hoping to give Total Monster a run for their money. This very special boat was the first Turbine powered A Class boat to compete in the off shore race, making it a favored underdog (is that possible?). Unfortunately, they broke down and ultimately had to be towed to the finish.
Of the 26 boats that started in Trinidad, only 11 made it to Tobago. The seas were some of the roughest crews had seen in at least five years; 6 to 12 foot waves and hang times of 8 to ten seconds. Due to the conditions and the speeds at which these boats travel, it was inevitable that some would literally fall apart and break. Probably not the best year for Vortex to try out their turbine technology in this grueling race.
The 116 mile course was completed by Total Monster in 25 minutes, a full three minutes ahead of second place Mr Solo Too. Total Monster is a 46′ Skater Catamaran powered by two 1,350 horsepower engines, and they officially retired in 2015..
At 9:17 AM, the GPS indicated that the Rug Rat D Class boat had come to a stop, which is not unusual at events like this. There was no accompanying stress call or any other communication from Rug Rat (Dale Mayers and Andrew Savary) to Race Control. Due to the open water nature of this event, response is greatly delayed and it is understood that if a mechanical failure happens, they have a greater chance of being rescued by a fellow racer before the response team can make it out to their location. Sheriff Lobo ( Justin Lennard and Shameel Mohammed) eventually came to Rug Rat’s assistance. The Rug Rat crew had been bobbing in the choppy surf for some time, and it was extremely difficult to see them in the rough swell that characterized this years race. The crew of Rug Rat attached the GPS to their person while their boat sank, which was why Race control continued to get the GPS signal indicating they were stationary. Since they no longer had their communications gear, the crew could not relay what was going on and what they needed to race control. They were extremely lucky that Sheriff Lobo was able to see them and stopped to pull them to safety. The nature of the race course is not one where spectators can alert officials to a sinking boat. The reliance on each other is extremely high, making this a very interesting arena for the competitive power boat racing.
The human lives are irreplaceable, so we are relieve they are OK. But give what the cost of just motor replacements alone are for these machines, we can imagine their insurance companies are not too happy with them. Still, the cost to replace the boat is surely cheaper than their life insurance payouts would have been!