It's always a race to the finish, with the possibility of record-breaking performances when it comes to the T&T Power Boat Association's (TTPBA) International Great Race, and Saturday from Williams Bay in Chaguaramas, it will be much of the same with Mr Solo Too and 24 other boats facing the starter's gun in the 51st Edition of the event.
Mr Solo's crew of Ken Charles and company have a lot resting on their shoulders, having won 17 titles at this event, the most by any competitor to date. This miraculous achievement has also earned them the name ‘King of the Seas’.
From 7 am on Saturday, however, Charles will be hoping to win his 18th title, after coming up empty-handed for the past year, despite modifications done to his engines and boat. Motul Monster won the event last year.
Charles started racing in 1962 after constructing the iconic Mr Solo in 1969 with Brian Bowen, but he did not contest the first great race event. In fact, after his first race a year later (1970), he grabbed the newspaper headlines with his debut win, and later followed this up with victories in 972, 1975, 1978, 1981, 1985, 1996, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2017.
His achievements later earned him recognition as one of the country’s 50 Greatest Legends in Sport as part of the 50th Independence celebrations.
This year's event is being partly sponsored by Bmobile and Charles wants to deliver another record-breaking ride that will lead him to the title. “I have learnt over the years that although we double and triple check before a race, once you get out in the open sea and you are jumping 12 to 15 feet in the air and slamming back down, anything can happen. It depends a lot on skill and luck. Every time you finish a race it’s like the first time.”
He added, “This is going to be a real Great Race. It will be an open race this year between Paramount, Cat Killer and Mr Solo. To my competitors, I wish you all the best of luck and a safe race because that’s the most important thing.”
Marsha Caballero, TSTT's Senior Manager Corporate Communications said her company is pleased to partner with the TTPBA to help ensure the annual competition is safe. “bmobile is committed to supporting the sustainable development in our national sports. On behalf of bmobile, I wish the T&T Power Boat Association and all the competitors a successful and safe Great Race. We look forward to seeing Mr Solo race again this year and wish Mr Charles and his team all the best.”
Marcus Gomez, TTPBA president, extended best wishes to all the teams and thanked bmobile for its sponsorship which covers the safety costs of the race. “It is going to be a close one this year and if the water conditions allow, we can expect some tight battles and see some very fast times.”
This year, like in 2018, the governing body for the sport- the Union Internationale Motonautique (UIM) has expressed its satisfaction with the race.
Fans can view the race from 7 am at Williams Bay, or along the route to Maracas Bay and Grande Rivière, as well as at the finish at Store Bay, Tobago.