Cinzano wins overall in four-day race from London to the Channel Islands and back - by Ray Bulman

The four-day Venture Cup Prologue offshore powerboat race between London and the Channel Islands will go down as a success despite tough sea conditions forcing organisers to terminate the first leg in Poole rather than Guernsey. 

The event, which finished off Bournemouth on Tuesday, was used by organisers as a warm-up and testing ground for next year's much larger and more ambitious Venture Cup London to Monte Carlo powerboat marathon. 

Cinzano racing from Guernsey to Jersey - Photo courtesy Peter Sweeney

With seven of the ten London starters still racing at the finish, a high ratio of finishers compared to many offshore events, it will doubtless be concluded that next year's proposed race to the Mediterranean is achievable.

In the end the race became a close battle between individual classes with some lesser horsepower boats actually challenging the overall leaders. With an offshore event of this length such enthusiasm makes for exciting and unpredictable racing.

The fourth and final 71-mile leg back to Bournemouth was led for the most part by the joint American/Norwegian-entered Ilmor-powered 42ft (12.8m) Chief Warpath. 

The boat moved further and further ahead to finish more than half an hour in front of Markus Hendricks, Stefan Whitmarsh and Simon Wood Power aboard Cinzano and the Scorpion/Yanmar RIB Grey Ghost driven by Paul Glenister.

This latter pair ran across the Channel within a few yards of each other despite Grey Ghost being in a much smaller engine class.

An outstanding performance came from the 45-year-old HTS, winner of the first London to Monte Carlo race in 1972. 

Although it was outclassed on speed and ran at the back of the fleet it reached the Channel Islands before retiring with fuel starvation - not bad for a boat which has spent the last 20 years in a museum.

Being a far more modern design than Cinzano it's no surprise Warpath was the stronger contender although it lost time refuelling in Brighton on the first leg then incurred a time penalty for a rule infringement.

Cinzano dices with Warpath!  - Photo courtesy Peter Sweeney

That time penalty hurt Warpath in the final standings, which saw Cinzano come out on top with an overall time over four legs of 12 hours, 53 minutes and 29 seconds, at an average speed of 49.93 knots. Full results <here>

Celebration at Poole - Photo Brigitte Brun Bontoft