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Irish Sail Boat Tuner Has Secret & Successful Powerboat Racing Life

12th February 2019
No time to be nervous…..Class 3 in action at the OCRDA event in Torquay, with Team Power Marine of Malahide in foreground as Alan Power and Sam Jackson zap out of the turn No time to be nervous…..Class 3 in action at the OCRDA event in Torquay, with Team Power Marine of Malahide in foreground as Alan Power and Sam Jackson zap out of the turn Credit: Anthony Hadaway

Most people on the inside track in cruiser-racer tuning in Ireland will know of Alan Power, who does magic things with the top Half Tonners and other sharp end boats in his fibreglass workshops in Malahide writes W M Nixon. And when we were there recently, it was business as usual, with Nigel Biggs’ Checkmate XVIII in for some very impressive work before being shifted out to make way for Dave Cullen’s Checkmate XV, currently the Half Ton Classic World Champion.

But while Alan is doing work on these sail-driven beauties which might add a useful tenth of a knot to their speed potential, his own interests afloat are in speeds which are off the dial completely, as he has a parallel life as a racing powerboat designer, builder and driver.

half tonners in shed2The Half Tonners Big Picture and Checkmate XV in the main shed in Malahide. Photo: W M Nixon

power boat building3The current Team Power race boat at an early stage of construction in Power Marine’s smaller workshop in Malahide. Photo: W M Nixon

In fact, what with keeping the sailing market happy and ensuring that his current powerboat – the ninth he has designed and campaigned successfully – is in perfect order, he’s usually too busy to let the world know what he has achieved. So it was only by purest serendipity that we dropped in just after he’d returned from the annual prize-giving in England of the Offshore Circuit Racing Drivers Association, and gathered that he’d come back well laden with silverware.

The current boat Team Power Marine is Malahide through and through, and incorporates an interesting step in her forward lines to follow a concept which, as Alan admits, would take a long and learned scientific paper to explain.

step in action4It would take a very long time to explain the thinking behind the distinct step in Team Power Marine’s forward lines, but rest assured that it does the business. Photo: Anthony Hadaway

Maybe so, but it does the business, and in a five round series which featured main events at Torquay in Devon, Caernarfon in Wales. West Bay in Dorset, Howth in Ireland and Lowestoft on England’s North Sea Coast, Team Power Marine – with Alan Power as driver and Sam Jackson of Southampton as navigator – recorded a scoreline of 3,1,1,1,3 to take clear first overall in Class 3, while also finishing 2nd overall in a total fleet of 38 boats from all classes.

It takes a lot of effort and fine tuning to get one of these machines in perfect race-ready condition, and it goes without saying that it takes nerves stronger than steel to race them flat out. Yet when we met up with the man himself on a cold damp February afternoon in Malahide, the glamour of success in this gutsy sport seemed far away from this dusty perfectionist who was working his rare skills to squeeze an extra smidgin of speed out of Checkmate XVIII. But then, that’s the way it is in the very special world of Alan Power.

alan power5The “dusty perfectionist” – Alan Power back in Malahide in work mode a couple of days after receiving his array of top powerboat silverware. Photo: W M Nixon

Published in Powerboat Racing
WM Nixon

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WM Nixon

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William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland for many years in print and online, and his work has appeared internationally in magazines and books. His own experience ranges from club sailing to international offshore events, and he has cruised extensively under sail, often in his own boats which have ranged in size from an 11ft dinghy to a 35ft cruiser-racer. He has also been involved in the administration of several sailing organisations.

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