MONACO, 23 July 2019 — After successfully competing in the Guernsey Gold Cup in June, next stop for Windcraft Racing’s Wild Eleven will be the final UKOPRA meeting of the season at Cowes.
The event will take place on Sunday 25 August and Wild Eleven will compete in the Cowes 100.
Driver Jerome Brarda explained: “With regard to that day, we will not join in the long course, Cowes-Torquay-Cowes, which is about 200 miles. This is due to a lack of fuel capacity on board, so we will compete in the shorter race, 100 miles, and also in a different class of boat, which allows us to hope for a place on the podium.”
But the team has a couple of adjustments to make to bring that prospect closer.
“At the moment, I’m not satisfied with the top speed of the boat, especially in the Guernsey race,” Brarda said. “The sea was flat calm, our average speed should have been higher. I guess that the problem is coming from the propellers, so we are going to test different sets of props in order to increase our competitiveness for the Cowes race.”
Brarda said he is hoping for a podium slot especially to give some satisfaction to the team’s sponsors — the original sponsor, Windcap Holding, and the sponsors who joined for the Guernsey race on 7 June, Monaco-based companies Capital Real Estate and Arper International.
Brarda added that Windcraft Racing intends to attempt to break two speed records when the UKOPRA racing season is done.
“We will make an attempt on the Monaco to Cannes record during the Cannes Yachting Festival, which runs from 10 to 15 September, and again an attempt to break the Monaco to St Tropez record during the Monaco Yacht Show between 25 and 28 September.”
Still on Monaco, Brarda expressed his team’s appreciation for support from two people in particular in the Principality.
“I want to really thank two persons from Monaco, first of all Antonio Spiezia our team principal, without whom this programme wouldn’t have been possible, and secondly but certainly not least, Gianfranco Rossi, the president of the Monaco Powerboating Federation and also a world offshore champion on many occasions. Rossi is also the only racer who have won the Cowes Classic race four times — in 1981,1982, 1983 and 1984. He gave us great support, both technical and logistical.”
Brarda recalled that Rossi also raced with Prince Albert II back in the day, well before the prince’s accession to the throne.
“The Principality of Monaco has a long history with powerboating, and has allowed racers from all over the world to develop in this beautiful and glamorous location. If my memory is good, Prince Albert won the Monaco-St Tropez offshore race in 1982 — accompanied again by Gianfranco Rossi.”
Looking forward to breaking some speed records, he added: “We will use green energy to power Wild Eleven during these record attempts. We plan to modify the engines to use bio-ethanol, conduct tests to check its efficiency, and hopefully go on to use bio-ethanol in future races.
“Everybody needs to do something to mitigate climate change, and we hope that offshore powerboating on this side of the Atlantic will move towards replacing petrol, a fossil fuel, with bio-ethanol, a form of renewable energy.”
Windcraft Racing’s 38-foot Cigarette Hawk, Wild Eleven, competed successfully in the Guernsey Powerboat Club’s Gold Cup race at the start of this month, and the iconic powerboat will again compete in the legendary offshore races at Cowes, Isle of Wight, just at the end of August.
We thought it would be a good moment to catch up with Jérôme Brarda, former race car competitor and driver of Wild Eleven, before the team gets down to the business of preparing for the final UKOPRA event of this season.
Interzone Pictures: You had some problems in the first race of the UKOPRA season at Poole and didn’t finish due to fuel pump difficulties. How did you fare in the second race of the series off Guernsey?
Jérôme Brarda: We did reasonably well. We placed sixth, but I reckon we would have done better if another issue hadn’t hit us just at the start. The engines stalled just as the race was getting under way, and we never managed to make up the lost distance when we restarted.
IP: Were you happy with the boat’s performance, though? It was really your first chance to test it across a completed circuit, wasn’t it?
JB: Yes, you’re right. At the moment, I’m not satisfied with the top speed of the boat, especially in the Guernsey race. The sea was flat calm, our average speed should have been higher. I guess that the problem is coming from the propellers, so we are going to test different sets of props in order to increase our competitiveness for the Cowes race.
IP: At Poole, Wild Eleven didn’t finish because one of the fuel pumps drained a tank. That’s not such a long course, so I wonder will the boat manage the Cowes-Torquay-Cowes distance?
JB: Well spotted! The answer, unfortunately, is that the course for this very challenging race is beyond our fuel capacity. It’s around 200 miles, so instead we are entering the Cowes 100 race, not in Offshore 1 but a different class. It’s a course of 100 miles, about 160 kilometres.
IP: Are you hopeful of a good result?
JB: I am. Given what we’ve learned from the first two races, combined with modifications to the boat and being in a different class this time, I am hopeful of a place on the podium. Apart from the satisfaction that would bring, I’d like to satisfy our sponsors.
IP: Who have you lined up at this stage?
JB: Our original sponsor was, and remains, Windcap Holding, which is a yacht brokerage based in Florida. Then we were very pleased that Capital Real Estate and Arper International joined us as partners before the Guernsey race — both of them are companies based in Monaco, whose flag we race under.
IP: Tell me about the Monaco connection, as the team is a Monegasque team.
JB: We’ve had a lot of help from the Principality, where I’m a frequent visitor and in years past conducted much of my yacht broking business. Monaco has a long history of involvement in powerboating, you know, and has encouraged racers from all over the world to compete — and in such a beautiful and glamorous location.
If my memory is good, the current ruler, Prince Albert II, won the Monaco-St Tropez offshore race in 1982, accompanied by Gianfranco Rossi, who is a legend in the sport.
IP: Yes, I know that Prince Albert used to be a major participant. And Rossi, of course. Is he still involved?
JB: Well, I don’t know if the prince has any direct involvement, but he is certainly still a fan and supporter.
As for Gianfranco Rossi, I really do want to thank him publicly for his support, as president of the Monaco Powerboating Federation, and in addition our team principal Antonio Spiezia, also resident in Monaco. Without them, and the technical and logistical support they offered, our programme this year would not have been possible.
I mean, Rossi is an absolute legend. He has been world champion on multiple occasions, and he won the Cowes classic race, to Torquay and back, four times in a row — in 1981, 1982, 1983 and 1984. He is still the only driver to have won it four times — some achievement, given what a tough race it is.
As I said, the principality has a long history with powerboating, and the MPF has been an enabling inspiration to the sport in Europe and beyond. I’m quite the international citizen, myself, but I can tell you I am very proud this season to be flying the Monaco colours for the first time while competing.
IP: That I can understand! But after Cowes, have you more plans?
JB: Yes, we have two speed record attempts planned for this season, which will be filmed for use in your documentary series. First, we’re going to make an attempt on the record for the Monaco to St Tropez course I just mentioned, and then we will try a longer run, from Monaco to Cannes.
We will probably make the Monaco to St Tropez attempt at the time of the Monaco Yacht Show, the end of September.
And there’s another exciting aspect to that project. We plan to modify the engines to use green energy in the form of bio-ethanol, conduct a bunch of tests to check its efficiency, and hopefully go on to use bio-ethanol in future races.
IP: Sounds like quite a challenge, or is it?
Planning for this is at a very early stage, so I can’t say much more than I’ve just said. There aren’t really any great technical challenges, it’s more a question of calibrating and tuning.
What I can say is that we know ethanol can give us a higher power output per litre once the engines are properly tuned for it, so we are looking forward to doing our best to squeeze a really high performance from Wild Eleven and get out there and smash some speed records with her.
IP: Are you inspired to do this by such movements as Extinction Rebellion or Greta Thunberg’s School Strike for Climate?
Not by them as such, though we are sympathetic to their objectives, but more by the fact that everyone has to take account of climate change and do their bit to mitigate. We’ve had the notion of using bio-ethanol instead of petrol in mind for some years, but this will be the first occasion where the fuel we use is entirely under our control.
We’d like to see the use of bio-ethanol spread into powerboat racing on this side of the Atlantic and to other places where it’s popular. There are some very good existing cases of using bio-ethanol in the US. In offshore powerboating, many races are run with the entire field of boats powered by the green fuel, and the same applies to other motorsports, including NASCAR, probably the biggest motorsport in the US.
Why not in Europe, which has ambitious targets to substitute bio-ethanol for fossil fuels? We intend to work on this in the longer term, too, not just for a couple of speed record runs.
The Windcraft racing team participated in its first race of the offshore season, entering its iconic 38-foot Cigarette Hawk, Wild Eleven, in the Offshore 1 class at Poole in Dorset on Sunday 9 June.
The races that day were the first in the World Offshore Championship series organised by the UK Offshore Powerboat Racing Association (UKOPRA) over this summer, with further races in the series due in July off the island of Guernsey and concluding in late August with contests over the long and challenging Torquay to Cowes course.
Driver Jerome Brardaand throttleman Eric Adam were joined by navigator Gordon Compton, a very experienced offshore racer who has competed in long endurance races such as the Round Britain powerboat race, London to Monte Carlo, and the Cowes-Torquay-Cowes circuit.
As they purchased Wild Eleven just last January, the team spent all the months since, up to the last minute in Southampton, preparing and tuning the machine, which is powered by two 600HP Mercury V8 engines.
Unfortunately, with just about ten minutes left in the 1.5-hour race, Wild Eleven suffered fuel pump difficulties and had to retire. But Brarda, whose involvement in the sport goes back to 1986, pronounced himself delighted with her performance.
“This is a very stable and safe boat,” he said. “I’ve got another Cigarette, an earlier and slightly shorter model, and the improvement in stability is remarkable.
“We’ll be properly ready for the next race on Guernsey once we sort out the fuel pumps, and I’ve no doubt this boat gives us an excellent chance of winning one or more races during the season. The engines ran beautifully and we are very happy with the boat’s performance”
Wild Eleven raced under the flag of Monaco, where she is registered. But it took three nationalities to defend the colours of the glamorous principality, renowned worldwide for its luxurious way of life and its major sports events such as the Formula 1 Grand Prix and the Tennis Masters of Monte Carlo — Brarda, an American sportsman, raced under the US flag, while Eric Adam flew the French tricolour and Gordon Thompson the Union Jack.
Adam’s involvement in motorsports spans more than 30 years, starting in powerboats in the Leader Offshore Racing team of the late ex-Formula 1 driver Didier Pironi, then in rallying, then managing a major car racing team with Ferrari in the prestigious World Endurance Championship. Filling the role of throttleman with Windcraft Racing marks his return to offshore powerboating.
Windcraft Racing’s audiovisual media partner InterZone Pictures will begin filming at the next WOC race off Guernsey early next July, and in the meantime Windcraft will set a date for Wild Eleven‘s first speed record attempt. The team will consider several possible routes, including Portsmouth (UK) to Cherbourg (France), Monte Carlo to St Tropez, or Monte Carlo to Cannes.
The team will be back in action on 6 July, when the Guernsey Powerboat Association will host the Guernsey Gold Cup from the 5th to the 8th of the month. Seven boats will contest Class 1, including Poole winner Tommy One, piloted by Maurizio Schepici and Giampaolo Montavoci.
Our first speed record run of the 2015/16 season is scheduled for 31 October. One thing we are sure of — we are going to smash some records!
We are also planning a series of three documentaries focused on offshore powerboat racing, its history and its folklore. That’s because Jérôme Brarda competed alongside actor Don Johnson back in the days when Don’s Team USA was setting world records in the Superboat class. Jerome continues to race, and will drive our 12.8 metre Supercat in the speed record attempts.
Jérôme Brarda started his career in Europe in race cars, in the classic single-seater school, Formula 3, then moved to endurance races such as Le Mans.
After a successful tryout in Offshore Powerboat racing in 1986, Jérôme crossed the Atlantic in 1990 to join the famous Team USA owned by Miami Vice star Don Johnson. Jérôme competed intensively alongside Don in the Superboat class, setting world records.
Jérôme did not abandon car racing, though. In 1993 he entered a seven year race programme with Porsche in the GT Class, winning major Endurance Grand Prix worldwide.
In 2007 he returned to offshore powerboat racing in the US at the highest level, helming a MTI44 Supercat. Jérôme returned to the World Offshore Championship in 2008, becoming Vice-World Champion in 2017. He has developed a successful media and TV presence as host for several specialised international channels.