For Drew Langdon every ‘wave’ has a silver lining…

Thursday, August 4, 2011, 11:09

by Wilfred Sultana

Drew Langdon is a chartered architect by criterion, yet he does not practice such profession for his main concern is running his own development and commercial property company based in Exeter UK.

His other great passion is powerboat racing.  Drew must have been inspired by his father Alan, a most active racer on the Class SE and OE circuit in the 70’s.  Alan Langdon was also President of the South Devon Water Sports Club, a time when young Drew enjoyed his school holidays following and giving Dad a hand in the Club’s  races where he handsomely grew to become a Lap Scorer when just 10 years old and a Time Keeper by the age of 12.

I have known Drew Langdon since his first P1 in season 2004 where from a modest start in SuperSport Class he upgraded his P1 challenge by moving up into the Evolution Class where in the span of seven seasons he attained 5 P1 Grand Prix Wins and 20 P1 Grand Prix Podiums.

Mentioning podiums Drew Langdon is a popular protagonist where powerboating honours are concerned.   He has achieved many recognitions amongst which the National Offshore Endurance Champion, Two National Water Speed Records, One World Water Speed Record, Round Britain (Portsmouth-Plymouth Leg) 1st Overall, Current British Marathon Speed Record Holder, along with Miles Jennings, for Class A at 109.18mph, the Bahamas Trophy Winner, and more.

“I have been racing since an early age and I still have my second circuit racing boat which I had at the age of nineteen. It is a Bristol monohull which occasionally I still race at club events. My father was a works driver for the Johnson Circuit racing team and raced all over Europe when I was a small child and I went to many of the powerboat races and helped my father when I could. I was also a lap scorer and progressed on to become a time keeper at our local Racing club from about the age of twelve. I remember competing on the River Exe and then later at the Cotswold Motorboat Racing Club when I was studying”, recounts Drew about his early years connection with the sport.

How would you recall your early years of participation in the Powerboat P1 Championship?

I started racing in P1 in 2004 in my Buzzi RIB ‘Buzzi Bullet’ in the Supersport Class and on our first outing in Malta came second. We made the podium in every race that year eventually winning at the final race in Sicily. I raced with Jan Falkowski with whom I had raced for four years previously in offshore races in the UK and Gibraltar. Then I was supported by one engineer, Steve Causley and my wife, Judy, two sons Ali and Dom and Jan’s then girlfriend, now wife, Bethan. This was my crew and they attend the majority of the races. As well as the P1 racing we always compete in the classic Cowes-Torquay-Cowes race in the UK”, recalls Drew.

Alan Langdon, who lost his life in a flying accident when Drew were just 18, was his son’s inspiration to become a powerboat racing aficionado. Drew, presently owning and restoring three military jets – a Harrier, Jaguar and Buccaneer – is also a keen air enthusiast. Was this interest also motivated through the close bond with his father?

“Yes Dad and I were very close. I used to fly with him and enjoyed the navigation which in those days I used charts and two navigation beacon systems know as ADF and VOR, there were no SatNav systems then. The two beacon systems were different and the combination of the two made for an accurate passage plan. I only navigated to the wrong airport once, but is was getting very dark and the airfields were very close together in North London and in my early teens at that stage. It was just by chance I didn’t fly with him on the day of the accident. I do enjoy the jets and my two sons Ali and Dom are helping to complete their restoration. They are a good distraction during the winter months and make a good escape for me”, narrates Drew.

You are frequently quoted as referring to Malta as one of your most favourite racing destinations?  What makes it so special?

“I have always found the Maltese people very friendly and in the early days of P1 they were always willing to help which was very useful as I only then had a small team. The racing conditions also appealed to Jan and I as the water was very rough and matched the environment we were used to in the UK. Racing against Aaron has also been interesting as he has been racing since 2004 in P1 as well. We had some close racing when we were both using twin outboard boats. Each year we return to Malta the people who have helped us over the years always return to the pits and we have formed some good friendships and I always look forward to meeting them again”, pleasantly recollect Drew.

This year Drew returned to Malta at the helm of Team Racing Silverline (GB) for the first edition of the UIM Ocean Grand Prix World Endurance Championship. Besides being team owner and manager Drew Langdon is on throttles and trim, while Miles Jennings driving. The other crewmembers are Robert Jenkins as chief engineer, John Fairman supporting engineer, Keith Fear on logistics, Marcello Guillerno press pr and web, and Judy, Ali and Dom (Langdon) supporting and assisting on all the other stuff.

How does Drew gauge his Malta OGP outing and what are his powerboat racing plans?

“This time around Malta was a bit of a disappointment for Miles and I. The Arneson drives became progressively loose during the first race and destroyed a new set of Hering propellers which resulted in a poor performance for the first race and resulted in achieving a third position. On the second day a torque sensor broke in half only a few seconds from the start forcing our retirement. This was a great shame as we were unable to collect any points on that day and we now have a problem with this monitoring system as both torque sensors have now failed. I do have concerns about the strength and application of this system for the purpose of power monitoring in the harsh environment of marine racing. We now have to resolve the sensor issues quickly with the promoter if we are to make a return to complete the series. However, we are able to continue with the UK Marathon series and always have the excellent Cowes-Torquay-Cowes race in August, which is extra special as the race always falls on my birthday! I have been racing in this event with my eldest son Ali who is coming on well in the sport and has been now for a few years. My racing in the World Championship with Miles Jennings alongside has proved to be a very good combination and I am hopeful this will continue”, summons up DL.

Do you believe the newly launched OGP Championship can win back the interest and enthusiasm of international teams to have them back in good numbers?

“Only time will tell. It is unfortunate that so few boats are running this year; however we are in a seriously depressed economic cycle so this is bound to happen at present. Hopefully things will improve in time to keep the sport alive and the exciting television that is produced will catch the imagination of enough people and companies to move the sport on to the next level. The sport certainly has all the ingredients to be able to do this due to the good work Nathan Knight and his team did in the early days of P1 to raise the profile of the sport, television and corporate entertainment”, affirmed Drew.

So, the baptism of fire is over and done with for Drew and the other teams following the launch of the Ocean Grand Prix 2011.  The coming weeks should lead to more competition, added interest and further support to the Championship. The remaining appointments on this season’s calendar are Den Helder – Holland (05-07 August), Siracusa – Sicily (02-04 September) and Milazzo – Sicily (16-18 September). Den Helder should welcome to the event Ukrainian Spirit, with Victor Shemchuk and Aaron Ciantar as crew, who failed to make the opening Malta races; definitely an inspiring additional on the 2011 Ocean Grand Prix Championship circuit.





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