Bristol Classic Pairs reported by BERNARD HOLDER and photographed by STEWART RAE

A rather cool and damp early morning shot of Bristol Dock - OMRA pit area
On the 5th October 2008, the Bristol Classic Pairs event was held. This is a slight diversion from the normal regular OMRA event, in that the scores and positions gained at this event do not count towards the 2008 championship. Before Bernards race report on the Bristol Pairs we have another feature boat and this one just happens to be one of his own designs, the Magnum.


This is predominantly a submerged drive, submerged rudder (all home made) design for OMRA B, C and D Classes with measurements of: Length 53 inches, Beam 13 inches and Side Height 5 1/2 inches.

If you would like more details on the Magnum or any of Bernards other designs, he can be contacted at most of the racing venues, see: for details of events around the country. Bernard continues:

Having developed the Crusader I and II between 1993 and 1995 I then decided to design a much larger boat for more powerful engines, partly persuaded by my colleague Phil Locke who at the time was looking for a larger boat hull in which to put his water cooled McCulloch strimmer engine. I also had a Webra 90 ringed engine which would be more suited to a larger hull.

In 1995 the boat began to take its design shape aided by a Cowes calendar of Offshore Racing Boats of that era (c1982). The model boat hull was made of marine ply and then a fibreglass mould was taken from it. As with my Crusader designs, the measurements for the submerged drive shaft and rudder on the Magnum were carefully worked out based on my years of model powerboat racing, so no scientific approach there then!

The name of Magnum was chosen one late night whilst watching the television programme Magnum Private Eye. It suddenly seemed an excellent name based on the theory that it was a large model boat and also that short sharp names are easy for people to remember.

The boat is a four part moulding with a unique radio bay compartment at the rear. This allows quick and easy access to the equipment contained within and also acts as another flotation chamber. The boat comes complete with build and set up instructions and is normally straight drive. However it can be used with flexi-drive/outrigger rudder assemblies. Initially it was operated and tested using the Webra 90 and the McCulloch engines, but as time has progressed it has been fitted with CMB 65, 67 and 90 sized glow and also Zenoah petrol engines. The fuel used for my glow engine powered hulls contains only 5% nitro and I use standard 27Mhz radio equipment to control it.

Since being first raced in OMRA events in 1997, it has regularly won the B and C Class British Championship. In B Class it has taken the Championship six times and in C Class four times since 1997 and in other years it has always finished in the top two. At the annual championship rounds it regularly features in the top three positions. I hope the pictures give an idea of the boat, its size and principal features.

Bristol Classic Pairs

Sunday 5th October, Baltic Wharf, Bristol Docks was the 10th year of running the Bristol Pegasus MBC Bristol Classic Pairs for OMRA offshore model power boats. Officer of the Day was Bernard Holder and there was an excellent entry of 22 teams. Racing takes the form of one hour heats and an entrant may run his/her boat a second time, but it must be with a different partner. Boats must conform to OMRA rules and all entrants must be fully paid up members of OMRA. In addition there are a few simple rules such as: No overtaking boats on the inside at marker buoys and each team member must complete 40 laps and if a partners boat is dead on the water, then the other may continue to race. The total of the team boats engines capacity is 26cc with petrol engines classed as 15cc and the one hour races have a dead engine start.

The day started off chilly with a drop of rain and then remained dry for the rest of the time. The course was set out around four marker buoys, allowing drivers to make full use of their boats speed, the water was calm, ideal for fast racing and there were four one hour heats.

Now first things first, a very, very big thank you to Carol Holder and Lynn Locke who managed the racing heats and spent four solid hours sat lap scoring - thats mind blowing concentration for you. Another big thank you to young Ben Powell and Ian Searle who carried out rescue duties in the afternoon. Thanks also to all of the OMRA members who turned up to race the pairs, bearing in mind the recent consecutive races. One was a long trek up to Torside Reservoir near Manchester, then the next week it was down to Torquay for the chase boat event and now here at Bristol Docks. This must have cost a small fortune, so Carol and I are now reduced to bread and dripping sandwiches. There were one or two familiar regulars not present due to illness and holidays which would have accounted for another possible eight teams, but never mind there is always next year. Lets have a quick run down of the days racing. There was no defending 2007 winning team, as unfortunately Gary Darch had written his boat off testing during the week before and then damaged his hand playing with his dogs!

Heat One

With the heat underway, Alan Dobson launched his Warhawk/CMB 65 only to see it head off to the left all of its own accord - radio switch troubles! This saw dad John Dobson quickly into action with his Challenger/CMB 80. Previous winners, Luke Copley/Steve Whenham were again paired and Luke was the first to hit the water with his Challenger/CMB45. He had a good start and later on would pair up with his dad Mark. His partner Steve with his Phase 2/Zenoah showed great speed at times, but on other occasions his engine would reduce speed. He put this down to needle settings perhaps being too rich as he had used the engine previously in his multi boat. Now someone having his first shot at the pairs was Stewart Scoop Rae with an Apache/Sikk 26. Stewart started off well and soon settled into his run. His partner on the day was Andy Rennie, Crusader II/CMB 45 a combination he recently put together. Unfortunately for Andy the engine decided to go flat out sometimes then crawl at other times and he clearly found it very frustrating. A regular pairs attendee Andy Payne, Pugsley/OPS 67 teamed up with Simon Beament, Makara/RCMK 26. You can always tell a regular, he arrived just in time to put his boat in the pits for the start of Heat One. With a quick pull of his starting cord (yes, starting cord), Andy was on the water and away. Nigel Bedford, Stealth/CMB 91 RS and Robin Butler joined forces with Nigel setting off at a fair old lick. Over this season in championship racing he has had good results with the boat in C Class. Having clocked up his 40 laps, Robin took over with his Crusader II/CMB 45 but soon hit problems. It appeared he couldnt travel too far around the course without the r/c failsafe kicking in. This is a problem he had whilst at Torside Reservoir and it certainly reduced his teams challenge.

Meanwhile, the team of Andy Payne/Simon Beament were going very well, but just out in front were Luke Copley/Steve Whenham. The performance of Simons boat was looking really impressive. With about two thirds of the heat gone, there were only a couple of laps between the teams. Nigel Bedford pressed on as the mainstay of his teams effort as did John Dobson, whilst Alan tried to sort out the radio switch issue. Stewart Rae was well in the groove and enjoying himself , when with only a couple of minutes left his boat came to a sudden halt. The flexi-shaft had locked up and he lost the stub shaft end and propeller to the watery grave of Bristol Docks. Overall it was a good opening heat of the racing and three teams passed the 100 laps mark. Luke Copley and Steve Whenham set up a cracking total for all to aim for, scoring 155.2 laps. Simon Beament/Andy Payne were close behind on 147 and Nigel Bedford/Robin Butler on 124.

Heat Two

Five more teams for Heat Two which included Graham Turner, Stealth/Zenoah and Ted Aggett, Pipedream/OPS 45. Prior to the day, Graham had only run the boat once, I believe at Willen. First off was Ted, but he didnt really get too far as the boat failed to reach its maximum speed. He would go on to have a number of tries before Graham went on the water with his Stealth. It was then pointed out to Ted that there was only steam coming out of his boats water outlet! Over the heat Graham would basically do all the running and his Stealth showed a good turn of speed. Then there was the team of the well experienced racer Geoff Stent, Esprite/Zenoah and Jason Barratt, Challenger/CMB 45. According to Jason, his boat hasnt performed very well this year and if you believe that, then you will believe anything. Once Geoff had completed his 40 laps, Jason was off like a jet fighter, cool as you like. Joking apart, his boat performed brilliantly, was beautifully driven and the team clearly on for a great score. At the close of the heat Jason had personally clocked up 119.1 laps. The team of Dennis Wherlock, Apache/RCMK and Rob Gay, Cobra/CMB 45 started well enough, but then part way into the heat Robs engine began blowing plugs and thats expensive. Dennis would take over the mantle for the bulk of the heat. Someone else experiencing his first attempt at the pairs was Phil Hatcher, Phase 2/RCMK partnering Tony Ellis, Warhawk/CMB 45. Following the hooter, Tony was off the stand and gone in a very quick time. His Warhawk/CMB 45 is a fast combination and very quiet. If all went well he would surely put in a good individual score. Having completed his 40 laps it was time for Phil to have a run. All did go well for the team, but at around three quarter time Phils drive shaft collet gave way. Tony returned to the water, but would have a stop reducing their chances of a top three position. Local club members, brother and sister Sam and Phillipa Locke, were teamed up for the pairs. Sam had his Phantom/Zenoah and Phillipa had her Crusader I/Force 21, but it was just one of those days. Sams engine didnt feel up to it and Phillipa did the main running in the heat. Eventually it was discovered that there was a problem with air entry into the boat. Once sorted, it performed as it did in Torquay the previous week leave well enough alone I say!

With another excellent heat over, yet again some teams would surpass the 100 laps. Geoff Stent/Jason Barratt responded to the challenge with a total of 160.1 laps and see them go into the overall lead. Tony Ellis/Phil Hatcher finished on 142.3 and but for their respective stops who knows what they would have achieved? Taking into account Phillipa was running most of the heat by herself with a Force 21 engine, her team still registered a creditable 113 laps. The other two teams finished in the 90s of laps. With still two heats to go and some very fast and experienced racers to come, it was time for a well earned lunch break.

Heat Three

What a heat of high speed racing this turned out to be. Over one hour every team would race past 100 laps. Kelvin Bird, Stealth/OPS 90 paired up with Ted Aggett, Pipedream/OPS 45. Usually they both race the Z Class championship rounds. During the lunch break, Ted had sorted the water cooling problem on his OPS 45 and was keen to support his partner. This time, over the heat all went well for him and he completed his 40 laps. It was the turn of Kelvin and he showed excellent speed and was all set for a good run. For the main part of his run it was okay, but near the close of the heat sadly his radio controlled needle adjustment snapped off along with the teams hope of glory. Having said that they still managed 101 laps. Young Ben Powell, Crusader III/CMB 45 and his partner John Dobson, Warhawk/CMB 67 had high hopes, but Bens rudder servo failed on lap eleven. This left John to have a sole run and he achieved an excellent personal score of 96 laps, his Warhawk/CMB 67 performing very nicely. Now, Mark Copley with his Phantom/CMB 91 had teamed up with his son Luke, Challenger/CMB 45 and clearly both were looking for a top three finish or should I say top of the podium! Luke completed the first stint on the water without incident and was followed by Mark. Marks boat was very fast and credit where credit is due he had a brilliant run. Over the time on the water he was fast, courteous to others at marker buoys and with total respect, throttling near the rescue boat, so absolutely excellent. I would hazard a guess that Marks boat speed was 50mph, plus a bit! Now, had he not had a sudden stop and come off the water near the close of this heat due to a snapped needle unit, their team result may well have had a winners touch to it.

In this heat Nigel Bedford, Crusader II/CMB 45 teamed up with John nervous Smith, Stealth/RCMK. John took the leading role for the teams effort and Nigel this time did the supporting act. Their efforts were well rewarded with a very good total of 139.4 laps. Another local team pairing this time of Phil Locke, Spirit of the South/Zenoah and daughter Phillipa Locke with a borrowed Crusader III/CMB 40 from Bernard Holder. An interesting start for Phillipa, when her boat went in a straight line to the left on hitting the water. Who forgot to switch the radio on in the boat, dad? Whats a new shaft and propeller amongst friends? Phil went on and was soon gobbling up the laps with his Zenoah whilst repairs to Phillipas boat took place. Eventually his 40 laps were up and Phillipa was on the water. Over the heat all went well and Phillipa completed her 40 laps, Phil went back on the water in anticipation of finishing off the heat, but all did not go to plan. Just a few minutes remained and Phils Spirit of the South stopped on the far side of the harbour, so Phillipa completed the heat.

Always keen for another race, Andy Payne, Pugsley/OPS 65 teamed up with Arthur Preou, Challenger/CMB 45. Arthur had an on and off spell on the water whilst Andy enjoyed most of the heat on the water, personally completing 95.3 laps. With three heats over, the team of Mark and Luke Copley would move to second place overall on 158.2 laps.

Heat Four

With the adrenaline running from watching Heat Three it was time for the last heat of the day. It would be another heat full of fast boats and all but one team would pass the 100 lap score. This time Nigel Bedford, Stealth/CMB 91 teamed up with Andy Rennie, Magnum/CMB 67. During his stint on the water, Nigel would show just what his Stealth boat could do with spins, pirouettes and upside downs, but being fair, it really is a fast boat for calm water. Andy with his reliable Magnum/CMB 67 took the supporting role over the heat and filled in when Nigel was stationary. Previous two times winners of the pairs, Richard Jordan, Warhawk/CMB 67 and Bernard Holder, Magnum/CMB 67 set off very well and decided to share the hour long heat if all went to plan. This they did with no stops and narrowly missed out on a top three position finishing fourth overall on 151.3 laps. Unfortunately for the pair of Ben Powell, Crusader III/CMB 45 and Graham Turner, Stealth/Zenoah it would be a one man team effort owing to Bens rudder servo failure. Over the heat Graham would complete individually the highest laps of any competitor with 134 laps.

Their team was not the only one with problems in this heat, Alan Dobson, Warhawk/CMB 67 once again had radio failure leaving team mate Simon Beament to run for pride. Simons Makara boat is certainly very quick and he put it through its paces. You could say his boat was on fire and in reality it nearly was. Just short of the end of the heat he came down the pit straight and flipped over. On retrieving the boat, smoke was seen to be coming out of the radio box - for some unknown reason the servo wire burnt out. Hot stuff our Simon! The remaining team in this heat was Arthur Preou, Phase 2/CMB 91 and Dennis Wherlock, Apache/Zenoah. Sadly Arthurs bad luck continued, with his engine continually failing to pick up. Arthur said that it appeared the engine was being starved of fuel. Never mind its the taking part that counts and Dennis enjoyed his time on the water.


What an excellent day of racing, full of expectation, disappointment and pleasure. From the comments I have received, every competitor had a very enjoyable day and thats team work for you. For those who enquired of the next Pairs Race, it has been provisionally booked for Sunday 4th October 2009.

On behalf of the Bristol Pegasus MBC we would like to express our sincere thanks to everyone who attended and gave support to the running of the day (Yeh and many thanks from the OMRA competitors to the Bristol crew for staging this event, Scoop). If you want to come racing you can join OMRA via our website contacts, or for more information contact the OMRA Public Relations Officer, Stewart Rae, tel: 07711 594063. You never know, you might be the next British Champion.


Bristol Pairs 2008 Results

Team                         Hulls                   Laps

1st Geoff Stent and Jason Barratt         Esprite/Challenger      160.1

2nd Mark Copley and Luke Copley       Phantom/Challenger 158.2

3rd Steve Whenham and Luke Copley     Phase II/Challenger 155.2

4th Richard Jordan and Bernard Holder Warhawk/Magnum     151.3

5th Simon Beament and Andy Payne Makara/Pugsley     147.0