Now I don't and never will be in a position where I claim to know everything, but I do like to think that no matter what my affiliations I can cast a fair and balanced eye over situations and events.
I don't think it will surprise anyone who knows me when I say that powerboat racing is my absolute favourite sport. Having been a keen motorsport fan my entire life, and a life-long lover of being around water, the two combine perfectly in this high-octane, adrenaline-fuelled sport, and it is through this sport that I have met some of the people I am pleased to call my closest friends.
What I don't understand is the divisions. Back in my teens I was a keen mountain biker, specifically into downhill riding. There were divisions within cycling then: cross-country riders (XC) would pass us on the flat with ease on our big, heavy bikes and we would whinge and curse. Riding on the road to or from our rides, "roadies" would fly past us and again we would mock and curse them. I think back on it now and I simply don't understand it. The only possible explanation I can come up with is that I was a immature and didn't appreciate what others saw in their preferred discipline within a sport all based around the same basic model.
For the last 6 years, I have been involved in circuit racing in the UK, photographing the National Championship rounds. That said, I love powerboat racing for what it is and if you gave me the chance to go to an offshore race I would snap it up. What baffles me though, is that looking in from my position at what I believe to be a fun, exciting sport that the competitors love, it appears that it is being torn apart by the divisions between disciplines, and in many instances in a very public way.
A lot has happened within the world of powerboat racing over the past months and this week in particular. It saddens me that journalists who I believe should be presenting a fair, unbiased view of the sport take sides and provoke comments on public forums. It saddens me that the UIM World Offshore Championships in Guernsey have been cancelled today due to a lack of entries. There is a part of me that wonders how long it will be before someone somewhere comments that there aren't enough races in the UK, yet a club such as the GPA went to such lengths to secure and promote a world class event only for people to not enter.
I love powerboat racing. I love the friends I've made through it and the experiences I've been lucky enough to have had through it. I also wish I could change it. At the moment, the most publicly accessible face of powerboat racing in the U.K. is through social media. And it is not a good face. People don't remember the photographs and videos they see, or the results sheets that are posted throughout an event weekend. They remember the slanging match they read between groups of individuals who frankly stoop to behaviour more befitting of an 8 year old.
Don't get me wrong, I have a very strong nostalgic streak and having recently posted some photographs my dad took in the 80's I have noticed that they draw as much if not more positive reaction than anything I post of current racing. I will never try to claim I have all the facts. But I have seen comments about "going back 30 years" written recently. Times change. Sometimes the change is reactive. Sometimes it is pre-emptive.But change happens. It is unstoppable. If I could go back 30ish years and watch the likes of Spalding, Percival and Seebold racing round Bristol docks I would. I wouldn't want racing to be like that today though.
I'm aware this has been a bit of a waffle, but ultimately my point is simple. Despite my limited involvement over a relatively short period, I consider powerboat racing to me "my" sport. Not circuit, not offshore, but powerboat racing as a whole, and at the moment "my" sport is not coming off well to the public. We want people to get involved. We want to make people want to come and watch. I don't think we're doing that at the moment.