Cowes powerboat racer roars on at 81


Alan Goodwin has been racing powerboats for 30 years, he’s the oldest competitor in this year’s Cowes Offshore Powerboat Races.

During his life he’s been a navy submariner, a race car driver and now at the age of 81, he’ll pilot Mr Noisey, a restored powerboat in the Cowes Classic race on Sunday (August 26).

Mr Goodwin got into the sport after two crashes at Goodwood and Brands Hatch, he wrote off the first ever Lola T-490 car “chassis number one”, built by British racing legend Eric Broadley MBE.

He was part of a four-man team of racing drivers known as Magic Roundabout Racing, they drove Davrian cars, which were first built in Clapham, London from 1965 to 1976.

“We all had names of the characters,” laughs Mr Goodwin. “I was Zebedee, they reckoned I spun a lot.”

Alan in his car racing days

After his crash at Goodwood his late wife asked him to pack in the racing. But soon after, a friend roped him into powerboat navigating and they won the Spithead Trophy on his first ever race, a memory Mr Goodwin described as “quite magnificent”.

Then the opportunity of buying Mr Noisy came up, and although it was derelict, Mr Goodwin bought it and restored it some 25 years ago and has been using it ever since.

He admits he doesn’t use it very often because it uses three gallons per mile in fuel.

This weekend the team are hopeful for a first in class in the Cowes-Poole-Cowes race.

Mr Noisy on a test run

“We are really looking forward to it,” said Mr Goodwin. “The people here at Cowes Dry Sailing have done a fantastic job of getting the boat ready – the boss of them Tristan Ormiston, who is actually my throttle-man, so it’s in his best interest to get it going well. He and Jim the two proprietors have worked magic.”

Tristan Ormiston, the throttle man, also races cars

The third member of the team is Mr Goodwin’s partner, Colleen Sweeney – she navigated in 2016 when they came second in class, and will navigate on Sunday for their race.

“We’ve had over 70mph in the last three days but we might change the props and are hoping to be over the 80s, approaching the 90s,” explains Mr Goodwin. “The fastest I’ve ever been in a boat is 83mph.”

Mr Goodwin was in the Navy for around 13 years, spending seven as a submariner. He was stationed on A-Boats, T-Boats, S-Boats and the last submarine he was at sea on was HMS Alliance, which now resides in Gosport’s Royal Navy Submarine Museum.

Mr Noisy’s crew, (L to R) Coleen Sweeney, Tristan Ormiston and Alan Goodwin

Mr Goodwin joked as he explained the effects of powerboat racing on the body, he said: “I’m about 5ft8 but people always joke I used to be 6ft. It’s a stand up boat, you just take it all in your legs. My other half said I wasn’t to mention my age, but it’s state of mind that has kept me going.”

The Cowes Classic Cowes-Poole-Cowes race starts at 9.45am on Sunday (August 26).

Suggested viewing points for Islanders: Cowes Yacht Haven, Cowes Parade and Green, Egypt Point, Yarmouth Pier, Fort Victoria.