Fresh from winning the 2022 Class 4 [Historic] UK National Championship, the historic 1963 Bertram 31, H400 Thunderstreak, emerged from Medina Yard in Cowes, Isle of Wight this week for sea-trials before the 2023 season.
Extensive stem-to-stern winter works have strengthened the late Tommy Sopwith’s legendary race-boat which celebrates her 60th “Diamond Anniversary” this year – making her the oldest offshore powerboat currently racing in the UK.
And one of the more successful.
Once again, Cowes-based H400 Thunderstreak will race under the “Team:Royal Yacht Squadron” banner and field the same championship-winning crew line-up of Adrian de Ferranti [throttles] and Richard Jessel [navigator] with owner/driver Hugo Peel.
Team:Royal Yacht Squadron is entering every race this year, as we have a
championship to defend – plus we are celebrating her diamond anniversary.
Isle of Wight-based Hugo Peel reports fitting new external hydraulic race-steering, tweaks to the engines and other systems, additional buoyancy and safety equipment including fire-suppression.
He went on to add that reliability proved to be the key to her successes over the past three years:
Thunderstreak may not be the fastest Class 3E/4 entrant but her build-quality and consistency achieved a place in every race she entered in 2020, 2021 and 2023.
Her first full season in 2020 saw her romp home to a Class 4 [Historic] in her first races [Poole 100] in very rough conditions; repeat wins there in 2021 plus the 60th Anniversary Cowes-Torquay-Cowes races – scooping Class 4 awards, Lombard North Central Salver [Concours d’Elegance], the Tim Powell Trophy [first historic boat home] and the unique Mike James’ “Thunderbolt Carb” award from the Classic Offshore Powerboat Club for restoration.
2022 saw class placings at Poole again, the Hamble Races and Cowes-Poole-Cowes: and runners-up in UKOPRA National Championship.
In 2019, H400 was the subject of an extensive three-year restoration programme by Hugo Peel, which became the subject of an extensive article in Motorboat & Yachting magazine in 2020, “From Wreck to Racer”.
This charted her history from 1960’s/1970’s contender to derelict 2013 houseboat – and back to racer again.