Damon Hill's racing return

Damon Hill returned to motorised competition on Saturday. The 1996 Formula 1 World Champion hopped into a Honda Formula 4-Stroke Powerboat and after a scant 20 minutes of acclimatisation raced it off Cowes

Damon Hill's racing return

With seven-times powerboat world champion Steve Curtis as navigator [the driver has all the controls in this class] Hill recovered from startline confusion, and early laps at the back, to move up through the field to fifth from nine-starters.

After the race, Curtis was full of praise. "If he were to do another race now," he said, "I'm sure he'd finish top three, and the top three drivers in this series [in which all drivers have equal machinery] are good." After the race Hill told Nick Phillips how he got on.



Absolutely. Well, it wasn't so much fun as terrifying. I ended up losing too many places at the start, and from what I hear the start was badly-conducted, so I'm blaming that.



Yeah, very exciting, very exhilarating and bracing, particularly bracing. I got soaked. The rain was torrential and at one time we got behind another boat and it was like someone turning a fireman's hose on you. You can't see a thing and I think it lived up to all of its reputation - getting soaked and tearing up tenners and all that.



It felt very fast. The problem is it gets airborne all the time and you don't know whether you're going to land sideways or on the nose first. It's a bit like moto-cross but with no suspension. I reckon the physical punishment your back takes is actually worse than in F1. They do get into tank-slappers too and it really feels like you're going over.



Well, I was trusting Steve's judgement on this. I thought that if he doesn't say anything, it'll be fine, but after I got out, he said that perhaps we should have lifted off for a couple of those waves - like the wake from the supertanker that we nearly hit, that was one to lift on apparently.



There was one guy sailing his boat, just out for a morning sail and suddenly there were about 20 boats going past him on either side. There's no track discipline out there.



If there is, I didn't find it. It was just keep your foot in and try not to scrub too much speed off.



No. It was just for fun and the thrill, a one-off. I might have another go at something, but something different. The thing is to do as many different things as possible. I love boats, water and anything to do with the sea.

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