Mobil Outlaw was the first to Tobago on Saturday, as 23 boats competed in six different race classes for the 52nd edition of the Trinidad and Tobago Great Race.
The event, which was hosted by the Trinidad and Tobago Power Boat Association (TTPBA) and sponsored by bmobile, ran from Williams Bay, Chaguaramas to the Store Bay Beach facility and was streamed live on Facebook.
Covid-19 restrictions meant the Great Race passed without the usual festivities while there were no international racers involved—five of the 23 competition boats were from Tobago. Still, bmobile reported that over 138,000 persons viewed the live stream, which was an increase of close to 40,000 from their maiden live feed in 2019.
Mobil Outlaw is co-owned by cousins Jason Ross and Michael Ross; and, for Jason, it was his fourth win in five attempts on that boat.
Jason said he expected to win the 80 miles-per-hour (mph) category but to be the first boat to the Sister Isle was a welcomed bonus.
“In the lead up to the race, we had some challenges with the fuel tank,” Jason told the event coordinators. “We also experienced issues with the foam on the way to Tobago which we only realised when we reached to Tobago, so we are very happy for this win.
“[…] The sea conditions were rough, there were one or two patches that weren’t that bad, but the general conditions were rough. It may look calm from the air and aerial pictures from boats and so on—but when you’re actually in a race boat, it’s challenging.”
With no fanfare at the start or end of the race due to health restrictions, it was a case of win and go home for Mobil Outlaw.
“We celebrated via phone calls and messages,” said Jason. “As a result of the restrictions imposed, we raced and returned home the same day.”
In the 130-mph class, Big Thunder, navigated by Alan Pereira and Buxo, dethroned 2019 class champion and veteran racer Ken Charles and his Mr Solo Too crew, who were aiming for their 18th title. Mr Solo Too broke down early and failed to complete the race.
“I feel good following the fact that we had months of preparation to prepare for the Great Race,” said Pereira. “It is indeed a great accomplishment for an event that has been happening for 52 years.”
There was no upset in the 95-mph class, though, as Energiza, driven by Sheldon Edghill, made it successive titles. Energiza was the only 2019 champion to win on Saturday.
“We were 100% ready for the race but then when we started going up the north coast, we took some heavy swells,” said Edghill, who is in his 15th year of competitive racing, “and that took a toll on both the throttle-man and myself. At that point in time, we couldn’t push as hard as we wanted to but that is the nature of offshore racing.”
Three boats failed to start the race while four faced trouble along the way and never finished. TTPBA president Marcus Gomez said modern technology was very helpful to a safe event in 2020 and congratulated bmobile for its ‘critical support’.
“I was very happy that the weather had held out for us and that all the racers were able to have a very good race where we had a very high finish rate,” said Gomez. “Normally, the breakdown rate is very high, this year we had 23 boats start and 19 finished, so it was a very good year.”
Ian Galt, the general manager of TSTT Enterprise Services, said bmobile remains committed to playing a role in ‘the sustainable development of sports nationally’.
“We understand the grave impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has had, especially in the sports arena, and we remain committed to investing and strengthening this country with technologically driven assistance,” said Galt, “as we adapt to the new way of doing things. bmobile congratulates the TTPBA on working with the numerous ministries to ensure that this historic event on T&T’s sporting calendar was able to take place.
“We congratulate all competitors and thank them for keeping the race safe and observing all protocols.”
Gomez said livestream is here to stay for the Great Race.
“[…] Even with the challenges, we were able to keep people up to date with what was happening. The livestream is the way forward.”