Pembrokeshire’s very own Powerboat world champ, Daisy Coleman, looks back over her career and forward to the arrival of Powerboat P1 in her home county.
RedHanded: What is Powerboat P1?
Daisy Coleman: It’s the premier marine motorsport in the UK. It’s also the most heavily subscribed and seems to be turning into a global phenomenon! It’s the only marine motorsport broadcast globally and on Sky Sports in the UK. We are the pinnacle of our sport and race off-shore, but close enough in-shore for it to be spectator friendly, so you get good air-time from the choppy sea conditions as we race in some pretty tough conditions. It’s exciting and exhilarating. All the boats are the same, so it’s the crews that make the difference. With 12 boats side by side heading into the first pin on the course there’s nothing else like it. The race lasts about 30 minutes. We race in big sea conditions so there’s a tremendous amount of skill involved and the pack can get really stretched, especially when you factor in the differing techniques of drivers.
RH: How did you get into it?
DC: I fell into it, after I left the military, when I was invited to have a go at a corporate sponsorship day. I then got invited to do some training with seven times world champion Neil Holmes. Being the only female on the course and not having any boating experience, not knowing my port from my starboard, I was ridiculed a bit but I did pretty well and ended up being the only one to pass on my course! Three days later I finished third in the toughest race in the series - a 35 mile roundtrip between Poole and Cowes, which has since been cancelled because it’s so rough. This led to me being scouted by John Wilson, three times ex-champion.
RH: And you’re now Number 1 in the world?
DC: Yeah. Sam (my brother) and I won the British championship last year, our first year racing together as Coleman Racing, which qualified us for the World Championships in Mumbai in March. Went out there, did the quickest lap in qualifying and then won all three races to be crowned World Champions.
RH: For you personally, what do enjoy most about the sport? The skill, the speed, the challenge?
DC: It’s the most exciting sport – to race on a course that’s constantly changing, side by side with 12 other boats only centimetres apart at speeds of up to 70mph all heading for one mark, it’s challenging. The sea state is constantly changing so in a race a team could make hundreds of mistakes and it’s the team that makes 50 mistakes less that will win. On tarmac you can plan and practice – with P1 you can’t do that and you have to be far more reactive, adapting to the conditions. There’s huge skill needed to keep speed up as you take a corner, and teamwork is paramount to success.
RH: It sounds as though there are a few thrills and spills?
DC: I’ve been thrown out of a boat at 55mph and there were a couple of spills last year. It’s quite easy to catch the edge of a wave so there’s a risk a boat can go flying but if it wasn’t dangerous everybody would be doing it. It’s a non-contact sport, however it does happen – there’s an old adage in the sport that rubbin’s racin’ but you do it at your peril as there’s a risk you’ll get disqualified.
RH: What can people expect to see when Powerboat P1 comes to Milford Haven?
DC: It’s going to be a fantastic spectacle. There’ll be racing on Saturday and Sunday – you’ll see the 12 P1 boats in four races over the weekend. Then you’ll also see jet-ski racing, which is great fun to watch – those guys are really, really quick. There’ll also be hover boarding demonstrations, which looks like something out of a James Bond movie as the guy does his tricks which are great fun to watch. There’ll be a food festival and loads of exhibitor stands. It’ll be a great family day out.
RH: How does it feel to be bringing P1 to your home county?
DC: I’m absolutely over the moon. In Pembrokeshire we have the most stunning coastal scenery and a great national park and to be racing there and in front of our home crowd is a huge honour. It was great to be racing in Cardiff these past few years but to bring it to Milford Haven in front of friends and family is really special and we’re really looking forward to them getting behind us. The Powerboat P1 Welsh Grand Prix of the Sea takes place 15-16 July at Milford Haven Waterfront, Pembrokeshire.
For tickets visit www.milfordwaterfront.co.uk