Can Schepici follow in Balestieri’s footsteps 50 years later?

Over half a century has passed since the introduction of the OP1 and OP2 Offshore racing classes saw the international big guns start to arrive to do battle in UK waters for Class 1 and 2 racing.

And the resurgence of Offshore Racing under UKOPRA with their Offshore 1 and 2 World Championship Rounds promises a very stark reminder of those heady days.

On the 6th June Maurizio Schepici with his beautifully prepared Metamarine will arrive to run in the Poole Bay 100 with a very determined goal of winning the first World Championship round but with a greater challenge for him will be to retain the Italian National pride.

50 years earlier to the week Vincento Balestieri (top photo) had put on an outstanding performance in the same waters across Bournemouth pier with his Bertram Red Tornado to take the 1969 World Championship round honours in the Wills Southern Speed Trophy.

The host of that race being the Royal Southern Yacht Club, he will be expected to attend there for the UKOPRA Offshore World Championships ceremony in November. No pressure then!

That year saw some 13 rounds of the World Championships spread evenly between Europe and America and whereas the American focus has turned recently toward the more short style catamaran racing the UK continues to provide the longer offshore courses.

With a second round of the World Championships, this year moving out to Guernsey which first hosted in the early eighties the teams will return to another 1969 Class 1 World Championship venue.

Here the pressure will be on to a select number of teams to uphold a famous win at the 1969 Daily Express International Offshore Powerboat Race, that of Don Aronow in a boat built by Cary but carrying the name that was to become a household term for offshore wave crunchers.

It is envisaged that three Cigarette boats will be in attendance to do duel for the third and final round of the UKOPRA World Championships with probably the greatest pressure on Christian Toll with Dry Martini (above) to deliver a performance as fitting tribute to that victory 50 years ago.