Those wondering what that whizzing sound along the shores of Malta was on the second weekend of May were probably in the minority. Because most of us were anchored along Malta’s northern coastline to admire the P1 Powerboats dash past sounding like the deadliest of mosquitoes.
Maltese love all that is fast and furious, and they certainly had enough to satisfy them in the three-day P1 Powerboat event that kicked off on 8 May. Powerboats vied with each other for the best qualifying time as they flew through the Grand Harbour. There were plenty of dramatic moments: those watching the action from the bastions of Valletta and the Three Cities were alarmed when one of the boats toppled over, injuring the two pilots inside. The two men were rescued and rushed to hospital.
This was the first time in a long time that the Malta P1 Powerboats World Championship race was held in calm weather. The inclement weather of past editions led to the successful format of having the qualifying race in the Grand Harbour, which has now become a regular part of this annual event. For passers by, the setting of the Grand Harbour for the qualifiers is perhaps more spectacular than the open sea setting of the actual races over the following couple of days.
Several Mothers’ Day lunches were disrupted as the final race started at the rather inconvenient time of 2pm on the Sunday. This meant that a number of people got itchy feet half way through their meals as they were keen to rush off and watch the boats speed by. Some of the best vantage points were along the Sliema seafront and, further north, from the coasts of Paceville and Pembroke.
Of course, the Maltese are particularly proud that the reigning Powerboat SuperSport Class world champion is our very own Aaron Ciantar. Ciantar, who piloted the Ukrainian-owned Seagull Chaudron (photo above) with Angelo Tedeschi and Viktor Shemchuk, confirmed himself as a man hard to beat as he went on to win this year’s edition of the Malta P1 Grand Prix. It’s a family sport for him as one of his main competitors in the finals was his sister, Audrienne.
A few days before the race, Aaron had joked on a local radio programme that Audrienne was grabbing all the media attention this year, as she returned to the races after a one-year absence. She is part of an all-female team and driving the boat her brother won the world championship with last year.
In the end, they both made the headlines with their places on the podium as Audrienne ended up third. Aaron’s victory was not without a good dose of controversy. The boat driven by the British Team 26, which was the first to actually cross the finishing line, was penalised for over-speeding! Yes, indeed there are speed limits in these races as SuperSport boats have a speed limit of 85mph – the British team must have been caught by one of Malta’s over-zealous speed cameras!