14 Sep 2011
Liverpool Grand Prix of the Sea (10-11 September) saw the finale of the 2011 RYA British P1 SuperStock Championships. 14 Championship Teams headed to the new-look Mersey River Festival which returned for the first time since 2005 for the 5th and final round of the 2011 campaign.
Amongst the 14 teams were Helvetia Wealth’s Shelley Jory-Leigh and Navigator Dan Smith who after their Silver medal in Cowes 2 weeks earlier were back and hungry for another podium finish.
As Saturday’s race loomed racers were faced with taxing conditions with a slight swell and 18 knots of wind creating challenging racing conditions for all the teams involved. Championship Leaders Pertemps also found themselves face with an engine problem following practice which led to the Edox Racing crew of Rupert Pugh and Will Nurse to take the flying start.
Helvetia Wealth started the race in 5th but the grueling conditions were soon to take on some casualties in the 24nm race that in fact saw the Spirit of Liverpool team retire after 4 laps. Now sitting in 4th Pilot Shelley and Dan opted to play it safe and hold their position and go for a clean finish as the winds increased and the swells bounced back off the walls of the Mersey.
Formidable opponents Team Typhoo, Andy Wilby and Jonny Allbut were forced to withdraw on the 9th Lap as one of their engine mounts gave way and they lost steering narrowly missing a collision with Team 88’s Simon Bayles and Phillipa Baker.
Continuing on their steady course Helvetia Wealth now sat in third behind Race leaders Edox Racing and Cowes Grand Prix winners Peters and May team Darren Hook and Dave Harwood.
But further events were to unfold and as Team Edox lapped Helvetia Wealth on the back section of the course the race leader Edox overturned and partially sunk right before Shelley and Dan’s eyes. Driver Rupert Pugh and Will Nurse were thrown clear and quickly picked up by safety marshals on jet skis but the race was brought to a premature end with 11 of the 15 scheduled laps completed.
With the race red flagged Peters and May’s, Hook and Harwood took the win with Helvetia Wealth’s Shelley and Dan securing silver and Team 88’s Bayles and Baker taking the Bronze and all eyes turned to Sunday’s race with just 4 points separating the top two teams in the championship.
“I can only describe it as what it might be like to be in a washing machine today. The swells weren’t big but they were rough and unreadable it was hard racing,” explains the Helvetia Wealth pilot Shelley
“So we decided to take it a bit easy and just race to the conditions to take the finish instead of going for glory. To take another silver medal is fantastic it’s just a shame it didn’t happen earlier in the season.”
Sunday morning saw Race Organizers were forced to make the difficult decision to cancel the scheduled race with worsening weather conditions predicted to cause safety issues for the competitors.
So following an exciting finale to the season the results were confirmed Pertemps John Wilson and Neil Scarborough secured the inaugural P1 SuperStock Panther RYA British Championship and Saturday’s Silver Medal saw Helvetia Wealth’s Shelley and Dan promoted to a 4th place finish.
“It’s been a fantastic season and to finish 4th in my first season is a great result.” commented Navigator Dan Smith
“The racing’s been really close throughout the year and we’ve had some fantastic battles with Edox and Team Typhoo so to steal fourth from them was great.”
“Wow what a season! There have been some fantastic races throughout the year. We’ve all pushed each other along the way but some great friendships have been forged and a real sense of camaraderie amongst the teams have made it a really enjoyable season” explained Shelley
“I’d never have expected to finish 4th overall this year especially with the caliber of the competition in the fleet, I was just happy to be back in the boat racing. My thanks have to go to all the RYA Officials and P1 Staff for all their hard work this season and to all the racers for their support and encouragement. But a special thanks has to go to my navigator Dan and the rest of the Helvetia Wealth team. Bring on 2012!”