Offshore powerboat racing set to return to Guernsey

Powerboat world champions John Richardson and Tom Sauvarin
Guernsey's John Richardson and Tom Sauvarin are reigning world champions

Offshore powerboating is set to return to Guernsey after being suspended last year because of a safety enquiry.

Racing was postponed while an investigation into a fatal accident in Dover was carried out.

It has recommended no major changes to boats already racing, although new boats will need more protective layers to help racers if they have a crash.

Two events will be held off Guernsey in 2012 using a new handicap system which is designed for more exciting racing.

"It's been very worrying that any potential changes could have put new people off," Guernsey Powerboat Association chairman James Larbalestier told BBC Guernsey.

"These days a lot of people are racing on a shoestring compared to what it used to be like.

"It's been a tough fight both to ensure that we look after the racers over here and their best interests and at the same time ensure we are improving safety."

But the cancellation of racing around the island has led to more people wanting to take part in the sport.

"Although I'd rather not have seen a suspension it is quite nice to see just how many people are concerned about what was happening the following year," Larbalestier said.

"It's brought a few people out of the woodwork that we've realised are going to be racing with us and we're aware that we're going to have quite good numbers this year."

The new handicap system will see the end of mass starts for races, with boats starting at intervals designated by race stewards.

It means that the biggest, most powerful boat will not necessarily win, but rather the boat that is best driven.

"The current format of racing, as much as we all absolutely love it, unfortunately a lot of the excitement is at the beginning of the race and it all seemed to peter out towards the end.

"With such a large variety of boats racing it became quite confusing as to who was in the lead and who wasn't.

"With the new style of racing we lose a bit of excitement at the start in that people will start from a start gate one at at time.

"But the race will build towards the end where, if all were to go well and the handicap system were to be perfect, everyone will finish in a straight line."