This weekend heralds the Honda Cowes Classic International Powerboat Festival and the Cowes - Torquay powerboat race

A host of stars including Graham Norton and Neil Morrissey will test their skills afloat on Friday at the Honda Helen House Celebrity Powerboat Challenge.

The show-biz celebrities and their teams will guide Honda Formula 4-Stroke powerboats through a variety of tasks in the Solent to raise money for the Helen House children’s hospice in Oxfordshire. The event is the brainchild of former Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson and his wife Francie.

“This is a unique event and a great way of raising money for charity,” commented Clarkson. “The fact that everyone can have a good time in the process is an added bonus.” The Honda Helen House challenge will kick off a spectacular weekend’s powerboating, when racers and enthusiasts from around the globe will congregate in Cowes for the famed Honda Cowes Classic international powerboat event. This year, a record-breaking number of 90 of the fastest ocean-going boats in the world are competing for the various national and international titles up for grabs.

Amongst the highlights of the weekend are the final two rounds of the Honda Formula 4-Stroke offshore powerboat championship, the largest one-design powerboat series in the world. On Saturday, the 18-strong fleet takes to the water to battle out the penultimate round of its fiercely competitive championship. On Sunday the 2001 series will be decided in the epic ‘Round the Island’ race. Five teams currently have the national title in their sights, making these races some of the most exciting in motor sport today.

Southampton’s Steve Curtis, 3-times World Class 1 offshore powerboat champion and HFFS series organiser commented: “The Honda Helen House Celebrity Powerboat Challenge is something completely new for us and will be a fun way of warming up for the weekend’s races. The atmosphere on Saturday and Sunday will be totally different and those two final races will be phenomenal. This is the perfect end to what has been a great season.”

“The Honda Cowes Classic will be the most spectacular powerboat event ever held in British waters,” said Martin Sanders, General Manager Power Equipment Honda (UK). “Not only do we have the Honda Helen House challenge and the final Honda Formula 4-Stroke races but this year sees the return of the world-famous Cowes-Torquay-Cowes endurance race, which hasn’t run for over 10 years. It will be a great weekend.”

ybw will be reporting live from the event, and on Sunday, will ‘follow’ the Cowes – Torquay endurance race.