Friday, April 20, 2012

#communitysport blog - Simon Harding, Thundercat Racing Wales

Our latest Community Sport blog is written by Simon Harding, aged 35, from Neyland in Pembrokeshire, who races powerboats as part of the UK Thundercat Series and has been selected to represent Great Britain at the World Championships in Norway in August. Here, he tells us how he got into this very different sport.

UK Thundercat Series racer - Simon Harding
When I left school I worked in Newmarket backing and breaking race horses for Sheikh Mohammed. But after three years I had an accident when a two year-old colt fell back, rolled over on me and broke my pelvis in three places.

I came back to Pembrokeshire and as part of the healing process I started to do some water sports.
I did kayaking and surfing to build some strength in my lower body and got into it that much I managed to get on a course with Pembrokeshire County Council and Waterford Council in Ireland to promote water sports. I became an instructor, got a good few qualifications, and worked for Pembrokeshire water sports for six years and then as a freelance instructor.

I did a lot of work for a very good friend called Ceri Davies, who owns Swansea Water Sports, who got me into power boating and jet skiing. We did demos at the south and north Wales boats shows and I got my first blast in a thundercat and loved every minute. It was a love at first throttle turn!

I did this for few years and bought my first cat. After a year I bought a brand new one and began racing last year. I had a great season and the people involved are so great - if anyone has any problems with their boat or needs anything then everyone helps out. It’s something I really want to be involved in.

I had a very mixed year with some great results but then some very bad luck as well with two weekends with engine problems. This year is looking to be a great season with a new co-pilot in Tom Hamilton, who is a natural in the boat with his experience in racing yachts. We’ve been preparing the boat together.
We are both looking forward to going to the World Championships in Grimsted in Norway in August. We are only the second Welsh boat to ever to make it to the GB team so great news for Welsh sport.
We are also the first boat in the UK championships to become carbon neutral. We are racing but want to think of the environment as well.

When I was young it was just horses and more horses. Some of my friends were into water sports like waterskiing and kayaking and used to do bits in the summer.

I did some work for the Princes Trust as an instructor and found there are so many positive effects on young people when you get them out on the water. If it was out in a boat or kayaking or coasteering or surfing, you just don't know if you are introducing the next World champion of the sport to the water.

Follow Thundercat Racing Wales on Facebook. 

This blog was written in conjunction with the launch of a strategy for Community Sport in Wales.  If you’d like your say, get involved in the debate on twitter – using the hashtag #communitysport and you can mention us @sport_wales