Power boating in Plymouth


Contributor Paul Gibbins describes the excitement at the 2016 Royal Yachting Association’s Youth Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB) Championships held in Plymouth.

Plymouth does outdoor events well, from food, film, festivals & fireworks to making the most of the landscape and waterfront that surrounds the city. Those that live here are lucky to have such an environment on their doorstep. A walk on Plymouth’s Hoe is usually enough to remind us why we live here and inevitably, there is usually someone or something on the water. There can be few excuses for not getting on the water, even if it’s just a ferry ride.

Most recently another small event rolled through town in the form of the Royal Yachting Association’s Youth Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB) Championships. It’s usually a low-key event, definitely of interest and a lot of fun but with a serious purpose.

Sponsored by Honda and Highfield, a Boat Manufacturer, this event is a National Championship in which 8 – 16 year old Power boat RIB drivers demonstrate their skills with the goal of winning a Highfield 460 or a Honwave T40 RIB for their Sailing club. Nominated by local Clubs, children and young adults are put forward to various regional Area Finals, the winner in each age group (8-12 years and 13-16 years) takes part in the National Final held at the Southampton Boat Show in September.

What’s extraordinary about this event is that it’s free; anyone can attend and have a go! However, having photographed this event a few times, I am always struck by the lack of participants. Plymouth’s Mountbatten Centre always struggles to get competitors; odd given the city has many Sailing Clubs to draw from. But those that do come along have a great time, with the competitors showing off their boat skills and the RYA promoting seamanship amongst young sailors and watercraft users.

This year’s event had perfect conditions, flat calm and little wind. In the 8 – 12 years age group Kieran Kaye of Tamar River Sailing Club (TRSC) was 1st, with Jack Ryan, 2nd, also from the TRSC and Lester Davey St Germans coming 3rd. Judging by the looks of determination amongst the 13 – 16 year age group, competition was fierce with Max Baston from Lympstone Sailing Club coming 1st, followed by Lydia Dinham, TRSC and Olly Aniyi from the Royal Western YC.

Power boating is great fun and hugely popular on the waters of South West Devon, but accidents at sea still happen, often due to excessive speed and poor boat handling. Education through a bit of competition is fun and a fantastic way to promote best practice on the water – look out for it in 2017!