Shaki Easton and Errin Butterfield will put their unbeaten streak on the line during the Around the Island Power Boat Race on Sunday.
The pair are the favourites in A Class having swept honours in all of the season championship races held in the lead up to this weekend’s circumnavigation of the island.
However, although they are high in confidence and have plenty of momentum heading into the event, pilot Easton stressed that victory is never guaranteed.
“It does give you a bit of confidence knowing the boat is fast and you’re going in ready,” Easton said. “But anything can happen on the day and it’s not going to be a walk in the park because we have competition.”
As always, Easton is pumped up for the big occasion.
“I’m super amped up this year because we have a nice boat and she is running great,” he added.
“This is the big one and since I was five years old I have always wanted to do it. I won class honours twice but have never been first across the line. Even though there is no line honour that’s still my goal.”
Easton and co-pilot/owner Butterfield have been in a class of their own racing in a brand new Mercury Phantom and powered by a 115 four-stroke engine.
“It’s a brand new boat just built in March in England and it has all new technology so it’s a new package,” Easton said.
“The boat was built by John Guille and these new Phantoms have taken the UK by storm.
“Errin actually was the one who went away and did all the research on the boat. He was very excited about the boat and I also did a little bit of homework on it.”
One of the keys to their success can perhaps be attributed to a new partnership they have struck up with Motivation Racing, which is owned by world champions Jack Bobin and his father/crew chief Kerry Bobin.
“They [Motivation Racing] rigged the boat and did the set up so we have the same set up as them and are actually part of their team,” Easton said.
The pair are also grateful for the support they receive from sponsors and mechanic Andrew Cottingham and his co-pilot Henry Talbot, who are also unbeaten this season in the D-Class.
“Those guys tow us up and down and Andrew is our mechanic and we owe him big time: Harbourside Marine and HA Trailering,” Easton said. “They are two major parts to our race team and Andrew is on top of everything.”
Easton, a two-times class winner in the race, is making his sixth appearance in the annual event while Butterfield is making his debut this year.
“He [Butterfield] is a rookie but has been the best co-pilot I have had by far,” Easton said. “The chemistry we have in the boat is awesome.”
Easton is encouraged by the forecast which suggests ideal racing conditions. “I have looked at windguru and it’s saying eight knots so that’s a good day of racing for everyone, especially for Andrew and Henry because they are in a flat water boat,” Easton said. “I think the key to the race is your average speed. Everyone says South Shore is the major point but for me I think it’s close the end between Castle Road and Oil Docks because it’s always choppy there.
“If you make it through Castle Roads and it’s calm at Oil Docks you should be OK. But on the day anything can happen and that’s why I say it’s not a given.”