Author Archives: AJBC

F1H2O World Championship back in the Royals Again

The final countdown has begun with less than a week to go before the start of a 3-day weekend of F1 Powerboat racing in London.

After an absence of 33 years the F1H2O U.I.M. World Championship returns to the Royal Victoria Dock in Newham, East London.

F1H2O Poster

Over the course of the event, which runs from Friday to Sunday 15th – 17th June 2018, a total of 20 drivers from 9 teams and representing 12 countries will undertake free practice, followed by Saturday qualifying and culminating in the Grand Prix on the Sunday.

In addition there will be 2 races featuring drivers taking part in the F4-S championship which acts a feeder class for new drivers alongside other demonstrations.

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F1H20 Powerboat – Image courtesy of F1H2O U.I.M. World Championship

The F1H2O boats are single-seater, enclosed cockpit, tunnel-hull catamarans that are made out of carbon fibre composite material. The boats are 6 metres long and weigh 390kgs and each has a Mercury 2.5 litre engine generating approximately 400 HP which gives them a top speed of 220km/h (136mph).

The main viewing area for the racing is along the dockside near ExCeL London and tickets can be obtained here but there are numerous other vantage points around the Dock.

The same part of Royal Victoria Dock was also used for a different class of Powerboats to do some drag racing back in 2014 – some details can be seen here.

The following video has been produced in association with volunteers from the Heritage Newham group and sets the historical context behind this event and further videos will be produced during the event.

Update 15th June 2018

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Today is the first day of the F1H2o London race weekend with technical scrutineering and driver briefings taking place during the day followed by a free practice session later this afternoon.

The event in London is notable as being the first time that F1H2O powerboating will run a 100% carbon offset Grand Prix and they have teamed up with Treedom to plant new trees around the world to increase the amount of carbon absorbed from the atmosphere.

F1H2O Press Day (17w) @ RVD 13-06-18

President of the event promoter Idea Marketing Nicolo di San Germano introducing the carbon-offset scheme

Marking the historical connections of this event, which was last run London’s Royal Docks back in 1985, included the attendance of four-times Powerboat  champion Jonathan Jones who also won the 1985 London Grand Prix. He is still involved in the event as a TV Commentator and event ambassador.

F1H2O Press Day (28w) @ RVD 13-06-18

During the buildup to the actual Grand Prix on Sunday afternoon there have also been a number of demonstration runs taking place in the Royal Victoria Dock using a 2-seater powerboat to give invited guests the chance to experience the speed and power of these boats.

F1H2O Press Day (43) @ RVD 13-06-18

F1H2O Press Day (69) @ RVD 13-06-18

Update 17th June 2018

So Saturday was Qualifying Day for the F1H2O powerboats but we also had the first of the weekend’s two races of the F4-S class of powerboats, these are a slightly smaller boat with a less powerful engine and the F4-S class is designed as an introductory class for more junior / less experienced drivers.

The race course in the Royal Victoria Dock is the most challenging on the race callender due to the tight confines of the water space and the fact the water gets very choppy – this leads to plenty of thrills and spills.

 

There was plenty of close racing as the boats headed to the Canary Wharf end turn and the boats are very fast and maneuverable

 

.The drivers were not holding back…

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Full throttle to try to make a pass on the outsidde

Unfortunately there were a couple of incidents in which the conditions got the better of the drivers but the safety features of the boats are well designed and the Osprey rescue crews are well practiced and very efficient – all drivers safe and well (and only small amounts of repair work needed on the boats).

 

Then it was time for the bigger, more powerful, F1 powerboats to take centre stage to undertake qualifying for the Sunday Grand Prix. Qualify takes place in three stages to find the fastest driver on the day.

As with any qualifying session being on track in the right place at the right time is critical and so the pit lane was a busy place to be.

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Pit lane exit

With lots of high speed boats on a short circuit there was plenty of action to see.

 

This is a short video clip showing the powerboats leaving the pits and then taking part in qualifying.

Eventually after all the spray had settled it was confirmed that the pole sitter for the 2018 Powerboat Grand Prix of London would be Erik Stark driving the number 74 boat of Maverick F1 Racing – looking forward to the race now!!

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Pole Position – Erik Stark of Maverick F1 Racing

As this is a major event for London, and one that has lots of historical connections for the Royal Docks area, alongside #dlr_blog we also have volunteers from Heritage Newham covering the event – in this video British four-times powerboat champion Jonathan Jones explains the features of an F1 Powerboat.

Update 18th June 2018

So, the waters of the Royal Victoria Dock have returned to their normal state of quiet emptiness with just the Sea Cadets doing their training courses.

However, yesterday London was privileged once again to be the host city for an international F1 motorsport event – it had been a wait of 33 years but the 2018 F1H2O Grand Prix of London didn’t disappoint.

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The F4-S powerboats get craned in to the dock

The afternoon of racing started off with the second of the F4-S races, F4-S being a feeder category for less experienced drivers,

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Cable Car, Cranes, Canary Wharf and Powerboat Racing in London

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Rounding the City Airport turn

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Max Stilz heading for the win

At the end of the race German driver Max Stilz racing the #46 boat for Blaze Performance emerged as the winner – making that 2 from 2 at the London event.

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Max Stilz

This video shows some of the action from the F4-S race.

Then it was time for the main event – the F1H2O Grand Prix of London. The London circuit was a throw-back to the early days of Powerboat Racing with a small, confined, track with constantly changing water conditions (made more exciting given it was quite windy too) – to win in London in 2018 it would take exceptional skills as a driver.

This video gives you an insight in to the sights and sounds of F1 Powerboat racing.

The race was fast and furious and there were plenty of good vantage points for ticket holders and the general public alike. Everyone was treated to the sound and smells of 16 very high powered F1 Powerboats racing around the Royal Victoria Dock are very close quarters – few other venues on the calendar offer that experience.

 

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After nearly an hour of racing a winner emerged – it was the pole sitter Sweden’s Erik Stark racing for Maverick F1 Racing Team. He was followed across the line by Philippe Chiappe in second and Peter Morin in third. both driving for the CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team.

The winner thanks his team and celebrates the win.

 

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The winner reflects on the race and the top three drivers prepare for the press conference.

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Stark collects his thoughts after a challenging race

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The top 3 drivers in London prepare for the press conference

During the press conference Stark was asked what it was like to be racing at high speed so close to the concrete dock walls – his response was that he hadn’t noticed them!!

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Erik Stark – 2018 F1H2O Grand Prix of London winner

Thank you to F1H2O for bringing top flight Powerboat Racing back to London and hope to see you next year.

More pictures of the buildup to the event can be seen here and for more information about F1 Powerboat Racing click on the link.

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A pier appears

It is not everyday that you get to see 600 tonnes of metal being lowered into the River Thames – yesterday down at Orchard Wharf was one of those rare occasions.

Urban Space Management that operate the Trinity Buoy Wharf complex in the Docklands area of East London were responsible for achieving this feat of engineering – along with the help of a few friends!!

TBW Pier Lift (28) @ TBW 03-05-18

The item in question will become a new river pier at Trinity Buoy Wharf, initially as the new operating base for the Thames Clipper fleet (who are already based at TBW) and ultimately as passenger pier for ferry services.

TBW Pier Lift (1) @ TBW 03-05-18

Unusually the pier was constructed on site at Orchard Wharf and then needed to be lowered in to the Thames by crane – more often new piers are constructed off site and then moved up river by tug.

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Weldex Crane Hire deployed one of their large crawler cranes to the site to lift the new pier in to the river where JUMBO and HAVEN SUPPORTER were on hand to ensure it didn’t float away!!

As always these operations are undertaken in stages to ensure all is in order and all the preparatory checks had been completed the lift began and the pier took to the air.

TBW Pier Lift (2) @ TBW 03-05-18

The crane then had to move forwards with the load suspended in the air to ensure the pier cleared the river bank.

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Then it was slowly lowered into the water and then was secured in place (once it was made sure it wasn’t going to sink!!).

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TBW Pier Lift (22) @ TBW 03-05-18

TBW Pier Lift (23) @ TBW 03-05-18

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Then the tugs moved in to position to take the new pier down to the King George V Dock where the pier will be balanced before it returns to Trinity Buoy Wharf.

TBW Pier Lift (30) @ TBW 03-05-18

It was quite amusing to watch the waiting support vessels whilst the lift was underway – almost like circling sharks waiting for something to go wrong!!

TBW Pier Lift (17) @ TBW 03-05-18

This is a time-lapse video of the operation.

New Trinity Buoy Wharf Pier (HR) 03-05-18

More pictures can be seen here.

When Harry met Albert and George

No, not another version of the film but the return of ASV Harry to London’s Royal Docks – specifically the Royal Albert Dock and the King George V Docks.

Back in January 2018 the Eastern end of the docks were the focus of several weeks of dredging works by the vessel Borr to remove the buildup of silt deposits that could impede the passage of vessel through the docks.Borr (7) @ KGV Dock 17-01-18

As a result of these works a new hydrographic survey was required to update the navigation charts for the docks and the Port of London Authority have that task on behalf of the Royal Docks Management Authority.Galloper @ Gallions Reach 04-04-16

Usually the PLA would have deployed their small survey vessel Galloper for the task but on this occasion they commissioned the services of 4D Ocean to use a remotely operated vessel – the use of such “robot” vessels is something that the PLA are researching and this type of technology is likely to become part of their inventory but as yet the exact system has not been determined.

This was not the first time that ASV Harry had operated in the Royal Docks as it had visited in March 2018 to do a survey in KGV Dock and then attended the Oceanology International 2018 event held in Royal Victoria Dock.

The SeaRobotics unmanned vessel carries a sonar system and is operated using a wireless link that provides a video feed from the onboard tv camera as well as the mapping data and receives steering commands in return. The vessel can also be programmed to undertake autonomous taskings.ASV Harry (7) @ Royal Docks 10-04-18

Whilst it was doing the survey some of the local residents came to have a look but weren’t bothered by the visitor.ASV Harry (5) @ Royal Docks 10-04-18

The use of such technology brings a number of advantages including being more environmentally friendly in that the battery powered electric motors are very quiet and create no emissions which reduces the impact on neighbouring people and properties.

The vessel also produces very little wash and can operate in confined or restricted areas that might be more difficult for a conventional vessel to navigate to.ASV Harry (30) @ Royal Docks 10-04-18

A short video of Harry at work can be seen below:ASV Harry working in London's Royal Dock 10-04-18
The greater use of such technologies is coming to the waters of the Thames and PLA is working towards this outcome at some future point.

ASV Harry (40) @ Royal Docks 10-04-18

Some more pictures can be seen here.

#Oi18 – Rise of the robots

Every two years the Oceanology International trade event comes to the ExCel London Exhibition Centre in London’s Royal Docks.

Patriot (15) @ RVD 14-03-18

As the exhibition is focused on marine technology the Royal Victoria Dock in East London provides a perfect location for demonstrating various equipment and technologies.

Arca (11) @ RVD 14-03-18

Whilst the number of full scale maritime industry vessels attending the show was down by almost 50% there were still some interesting visitors along with some regular attendees.

Boats (2) @ RVD 14-03-18

Highlight for me was the attendance of ARCA, a multi-purpose vessel belonging to the Netherlands Coastguard and this was the largest vessel to attend this year’s event.

Arca (15) @ KGV Lock 12-03-18

Arca (9) @ RVD 14-03-18

Also in attendance was Thame. the latest vessel to join the Port of London Authority‘s fleet, this is a new survey vessel for the Thames.

Thame (5) @ RVD 14-03-18

However, the number of robot vessels, more correctly known variously as Autonomous Surface Vessels (ASVs) or Unmanned Surface Vessels (USVs) or Remotely Operated Vessels (ROVs) [or various other descriptors!!] had increased significantly and they came in various shapes, sizes and mission profiles.

ASV Harry (4) @ RVD 14-03-18

C-Cat 3 (6) @ RVD 14-03-18

Of these iXblue’s DriX red submarine was particularly noticeable and demonstrated an impressive turn of speed as it did some laps around the Dock.

iXblue DriX (18) @ RVD 14-03-18

Another interesting robot vessel was the USV Maxlimer which is a long-endurance Unmanned Surface Vessel that can be deployed on a number of different taskings and is one of the shortlisted contenders for the Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE.

USV Maxlimer (16) @ KGV Lock 12-03-18

It will be interesting to see what will turn up for the show in 2020.

Some more pictures of the vessels can be seen here.

Killer Whale in Royal Docks!!

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in to the water in Royal Victoria Dock (not that you are allowed to of course!!) there have been numerous sightings of a Killer Whale, or Orca, speeding around the Dock.Seabreacher Killer Whale (4) @ Royal Victoria Dock 25-02-18

Fortunately for everyone in the area rather than some marauding aquatic mammal it is actually the latest water sports activity to make its home in the Docks.Seabreacher Killer Whale (13) @ Royal Victoria Dock 25-02-18

Operated by Predator Adventures this is the UK’s first commercially operated Seabreacher Y semi-submersible speedboat that provides the passenger with a thrilling adrenaline rush ride at up to 60 mph on the surface and 40 mph under water as well as being able to jump and roll the craft as it moves through the water.Seabreacher Killer Whale (34) @ Royal Victoria Dock 25-02-18

Seabreacher Killer Whale (50) @ Royal Victoria Dock 25-02-18
After running a number of proving trials (after a slight delay due to the Unexploded Bomb elsewhere in the Docks!) Predator Adventures are now up and running offering trips around the Dock to those brave enough to take the leap!!

Seabreacher Killer Whale (5) @ Royal Victoria Dock 25-02-18
The following video gives you an idea of what this impressive machine can do.

The team are based at the Western end of the Dock near to the Siemens Crystal building.

Predator Adventures (7) @ RVD 20-02-18

A few more photos can be seen here.

UXB @ LCY

Sunday 11th February had seemingly been a quiet and routine day in North Woolwich but in the murky depths of the King George V Dock trouble was lurking.

The trouble was the discovery of a World War II unexploded bomb (UXB) in the dock just next to the terminal and apron at London City Airport (LCY).

The experts from the Royal Navy Bomb Disposal Unit were called and it then became apparent that this was the real deal and a cordon was imposed covering the airport and parts of the adjacent residential areas of Silvertown in East London.

This led to significant numbers of Police Officers being drafted in from all over London to enforce the safety cordon and to evacuate residents from the danger area.

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Police (7) @ North Woolwich 12-02-18

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Meanwhile the Royal Navy team were preparing to send a diver to further examine the device as part of preparations for its eventual removal.

Police (9) @ North Woolwich 12-02-18

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As can be seen from the following picture with the Royal Navy team in the small boat to the bottom left that the bomb is right next to the aircraft parking apron although the planes have been moved away from the closest parking stands.

UXB incident @ LCY 12-02-18

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Still some way to go until the incident is finally concluded as the device has to be made safe, removed from the Dock and taken for disposal.

Flying boats in the Royal Docks

So the London Boat Show has been and gone for another year and the last of the boats are on their way back to their home locations.

This first picture shows one of the boats arriving for the show at the end of December.

Sunseeker Predator 57 MK II @ KGV Dock 20-12-17

According to the organisers there were more boats on show this year than on previous occasions but in terms of boats visiting by water the number was much reduced with only 9 arriving this way.

Sunseeker Predator 57 (2) @ RVD 19-01-18

Part of the problem is down to logistics – to get the boats from the water, then in to the exhibition hall and finally back to the water requires 2 days of work using a mobile crane and a fleet of boat transporters and a big crew of people.

Prestige 630 (3) @ RVD 19-01-18

The day for their return to water was a cold and bright day but with quite a gusty wind which occasionally made the handling of the boats a bit tricky as they were suspended in the air but all 9 boats made it safely back in to the dock.

Sunseeker Predator 57 (7) @ RVD 19-01-18

Most of the boats that had attended the show were transported by road using specialist boat transport companies but still a major undertaking as each of the large boats had to be craned in to position.

Bavaria S33 HT @ Excel 19-01-18

The following video shows one of the boats, a Princess S65 Yacht, being returned to the water.

More pictures can be seen here.

Sunseeker 76 Yacht (5) @ RVD 19-01-18