History of the Cowes-Torquay Powerboat Race
It all began in 1959/1960 whilst Max Aitken, soon to become Sir Max, proprietor of the Daily Express, witnessed and participated in the Miami Nassau Powerboat Race. Together with John Coote they formulated rules for a similar event to take place on England’s south coast the following year 1961. It would be for craft of the specification laid down in the rules, basically built around the cabin cruisers of the day in order to develop the designs into safe seagoing vessels. It was to start at Cowes and finish in Torquay, where the Aitken family had homes and would be sponsored by the Daily Express. The first International Daily Express Offshore Powerboat Race was scheduled to start on August the 19th and would be the first race in modern day Europe since the 1930’s. Of the 62 original entries, 27 came to the line off the Royal Yacht Squadron at 10am that morning and off they headed off into the unknown and into some severe conditions, a fleet composed of mostly inexperienced crews, amateur’s and gentleman sportsmen in some highly unsuitable craft!
| Named after one of the strong Mediterranean winds, that sweeps down from the northern mountains at a moments notice, Tramontana certainly lived up to her name. She was the largest at 42ft and the most powerful, with twin Italian CRM petrol engines rated at a total of 2308hp, entry in the 1962 Cowes Torquay race and a beautiful beast too in her Mid green and white racing colours. Designed by Peter Du Cane, in mini MTB style, built by the all powerful Vosper’s in the Portchester yard this was Stockbroker Dick Wilkins patriotic foray into powerboat racing to make sure the Beaverbrook Trophy stayed in Britain. She was commissioned from Vosper’s at the boat show on New Years day and was completed 8 months later! Mr Wilkins was enticed into the sport by Tommy Sopwith winner of the first race in 1961, he had been Tommy’s backer and patron in his sports car racing days and although the owner of Tramontana left the driving to the team of Jeffrey Quill and Don Robertson.