Close escape as Pugh survives 70mph roll

Rupert Pugh.
Rupert Pugh.

MATLOCK Bath powerboat racer Rupert Pugh had a very lucky escape when he rolled his P1 Panther 28SS boat while leading the final round of the national championship on Saturday in Liverpool.

Rupert, and navigator Will Nurse, were thrown clear of their boat, Edox, as it went over at an estimated speed of 70mph on lap 11 of the 15-lap race.

Miraculously, Rupert was shaken but unhurt although his navigator wasn’t so lucky and broke his shoulder.

“I am not certain what caused the boat to roll but it is possible the steering failed as the wheel felt light moments before we hit the wave that sent us over”, said Rupert.

“I knew what was coming so was able to relax my grip on the wheel but Will had no idea, so I think that may have been how he hurt himself.”

Safety marshals were on the scene in seconds and officials immediately stopped the race to recover the drivers.

“The marshals ride jet skies so were there in seconds but I sent them over to Will first as I could see he was struggling. We both got out of the water quite quickly but the boat was not so lucky”, he added.

The partially submerged powerboat was too heavy to be towed so it drifted in the strong Mersey tide and was in danger of disappearing into the Irish Sea until it was steered into a disused dock about an hour later.

It was finally recovered at midnight but its £10,000 outboard engine had snapped off and sunk without a trace.

The championship was won by John Wilson and Neil Scarborough.

The Pertemps crew won British powerboat racing’s biggest title by four points from closest rivals Peters and May, driven by Darren Hook (Wadhurst) and navigator David Harwood (Wimbledon), with Rookie team Simon Bayles (Battersea) and Philippa Baker (Kensington) finishing third to cap an amazing first ever season of racing.