The grueling 115-mile Great Race from Trinidad to Tobago demands great endurance from both racing machine and crew. In this offshore powerboat race, the boats start from the foreshore in Cocorite, Trinidad, and head through the Boca de Monos into stronger current and wind, powering their way up Trinidad’s north coast and across to Store Bay in Tobago for the finish and a huge beach party.
Budget Marine Trinidad has close ties to the racers, many of whom are long term customers, but especially to John and Christopher Skinner, who are partners of the company. The Skinner brothers, Robert, John, Douglas and Christopher, as well as the next generation, Conrad, Marcus, Timmy, Robert Lobo and Kent Costa (Rosemary Skinner’s husband), have all participated in the race over the years, starting from the very first race in 1969.
Gulf Iron Man is the Doug Wright design in which this racing dynasty truly showed their mettle in this year’s Great Race. Guy Costa, General Manager of Mecalfab Limited in Trinidad, takes up the story…
“Gulf Iron Man had decided to sit out the 2016 season, but just 2 weeks before the Great Race we finally received our engines from the engine builder in Florida. We had to rebuild one engine and an outdrive after last year’s race, due to damage from the extremely rough conditions, and then discovered we had a problem with the second engine just before the season started this year.
But with the engines finally sitting in the shop we decided to race. We had just 10 days to get ready. New engine mounts had to be fabricated and a host of other issues had to be worked out, especially as we had not touched the boat since August 2015. The whole Team came together and worked tirelessly into the night for the next week. We tested on Thursday, 2 days before Race Day. Every system worked, we did not have a single issue. We were ready.
We were penalized as we had not raced the regular season and were required to start 3 minutes after the other boats. We were the last boat to reach the Boca. Conditions on the north turned out to be fair and we pushed to catch up to the leaders. After Grand Riviere we were on the way to Store Bay when we picked up the wash of Big Thunder in front of us and we pushed harder. As we were coming in to the Store Bay turn, Big Thunder was leaving. They saw us and the chase was really on now. Finally, we closed the gap, but we were running out of time to pass. Both boats were on the finishing circuit, then Big Thunder made a mistake on one of the turn markers and that gave us the advantage, so we passed and finished second.”
Gulf Iron Mancompleted the race in 1 hour and 17 minutes, just 7 minutes behind first placed Paramount and crossed the finish line 1 minute ahead of Big Thunder.