A few weeks ago Neil Holmes called me about getting a banner ad on RIBnet for his Powerboat Training Academy which gave me the perfect excuse to do a deal for me to have a day of training with Neil in his Phantom Evo.
This write up isn't part of the deal - I'm just writing as a happy punter
Neil has an epic powerboat racing CV with 7 world championship titles plus 3 world speed records, but he's also a very straightforward and approachable bloke. He runs race training, as well as general high performance and rough weather training, using either his Phantom Evo with an Evinrude E-TEC 250-HO, or clients' own boats.
They also run the full range of RYA courses with Don Roper as Chief Instructor. The syllabus is obviously laid down by the the RYA but is delivered with a lot of thought to students intentions to move on to faster boats.
My day was really an intro to the race training that he provides, but each course is tailored to the individual student. We spent a while in the classroom going over the basics, so that he was happy that I would understand what he was trying to get me to do on the water. As well as being able to drive boats fast, Neil has a real understanding of the mechanics of how it works, and explains it very clearly.
The practical bit was about taking turns at speed, going round the bouys in Southampton water. For the first few attempts it was at about 30 mph, but once I was starting to get the right sort of line Neil had me doing tight turns at 40, then 50, then 60. Believe me, I never thought that driving round a few bouys could be so difficult, or so much fun!
The Evo was fantastic and 60 was absolutely effortless - followed by about 80 mph once Neil was safely back in the driving seat for a last blast.
A one day high performance course for one person is £275 (plus fuel if you use their boat). Alternatively if anyone fancies a "track day" type experience then I'd recommend going to see Neil. Three people can share a day for just over £150 each - that's including tuition, use of the Phantom Evo and fuel.
I'm just trying to work out an excuse to justify going back again for another go . . .