SPEEDBOAT action will be in abundance this weekend as the 51st annual TT Great Race takes off at Williams Bay, Chaguaramas and ends at Store Bay, Tobago.
The annual inter island race begins at 7am on Saturday and Paramount are aiming to secure their second title.
This year’s classes include: 50; 60 mph (cruiser class), 40 mph (pirogue class), and 60, 70, 80, 95 and 130 mph in the race class.
Paramount duo Donald Webster (throttleman) and Jason Laing (driver) overcame mechanical challenges during the 2016 edition to claim victory in the 130 mph class, finishing in a time of one hour, ten minutes – seven minutes before second-placed Gulf Ironman.
They were unable to complete the race in 2018 due to an exhaust issue, but this year they say they are well-prepared, having done several checks and double-checks.
Speaking with Newsday yesterday Webster said, “The rigour of the race is real; it’s hard on equipment. The race is an extremely rough and demanding race on equipment, so it’s something that is extreme. The forces the equipment goes through in a race like that is really demanding.”
He added, “We are racers at heart so we want to win the race, we want to get to Tobago first. We could always set records but the idea is not to focus on a record, but to focus to finish the race. That’s our real goal as a team this year.”
He said the TT Great Race is “very special” to him, describing it as the “most dynamic” offshore boat race in the world.
“From a personal standpoint, one of the first words out my mouth was ‘boat’ and I’ve been fortunate enough to partner up for the last ten years with a best friend of 40 years, Jason Laing, so we have a very strong team.”
Laing, who has competed in the race from 1999, told Newsday, “Honestly, we going out to try and win the race. I don’t think we gonna try to break any records or anything like that but just to make sure and finish, and finish in front. We have some good competitors, there’s Mr Solo Too who are gonna be our biggest competitors I think, there’s also Jumbie, (Gulf) Ironman and Big Thunder, but I mean anyone can win on any given day so…”
The two have been racing with Paramount since 2012.
Asked what areas one should focus on to be victorious, Laing said, “Preparation. The Great Race is a long race and a pretty rough race, so getting the equipment to stay together for the race is the hardest part and that has been our major problem in the past. But I think we are very prepared this year; I think we in a good spot.”
Webster added, “A lot of things have to come together to achieve this. Team effort, water conditions, the equipment has to be in tip-top shape, preparation has to be there. It’s a lot combined to finish in a class like this in such a demanding race.”
Paramount placed first in the 130 mph class at the 2019 NLCB Powerboat Racing National Championships Series in July.