The following article from BBC Wales –
Four times Formula One powerboating
Jonathan Jones was born and brought up
in Cardigan. Now married with three children, he still lives in the town
despite the regular globe-trotting which has come in the wake of his success as
one of the world's top powerboat competitors. As a child, Jonathan used to watch Cardigan's annual speed boat
races. He was given his first opportunity to try the sport for himself when he
was 15 in a 12-foot boat with a 25 horsepower engine. After a few races, he was
In 1979 he won his first big race - the
Formula Four world championship at Bristol Dock. He took the British title in
1981 before moving up into Formula One. In 1985, at the age of 22, he became F1
world champion - a title he was to win a further three times in 1989, 1991 and
His 1991 victory was won against the
odds. He'd been involved in a horrific crash at the Hungarian Grand Prix,
suffering a compound leg fracture, which prevented him from competing in
several of the championship rounds. He underwent an operation to insert a metal
plate, running from his knee to his ankle and held in with 18 pins. Despite his
injury, he was determined to compete and in the final grand prix at Singapore
three months later, he took the championship by a single point from the German
competitor Michael Werner.
Like motor racing, powerboating today
is a sophisticated, high-tech sport. Jonathan's catamaran speedboat has some
400 horsepower, is capable of more than 150 mph and can rocket from 0-60 in
under two seconds. But unlike motor racing, powerboating gets little coverage
in the media and the prize money is minimal. When he's not competing or
training, Jonathan works in a bank in Fishguard.
Moment of Glory:
Winning the 1991 World Championship for
the third time in 1991 despite a serious injury in the early stages.
In 1997, Welsh Motoring Writers
switched from land to water in awarding the Tom Pryce Trophy to powerboat racer
Jonathan Jones at a special evening at Pale Hall, Bala, North Wales.
The prestigious Trophy was awarded in
recognition of Jonathan’s outstanding achievements over the years in the
premier Formula 1 class of powerboat racing. He has won the world title three
times (in 1986, 1989 and 1991 ) and come second, third and fourth several times. With two wins in
1997 he finished the Championship in fourth place.
The Group also considered him to have
been an excellent ambassador for Wales. Like Formula 1 motor racing this is a
high-tech sport using state-of-the-art equipment including a telemetry system.
And powerboat racing demands a similar level of skill, courage and dedication.
In fact with a 2-stroke engine developing 400 bhp, Jonathan’s speedboat
catamaran accelerates to 60 mph in under 2 seconds and pulls cornering G forces
over double that of Fl cars. Top speed is 140 mph – quite something on water.
At the presentation dinner Jonathan was
having animated technical discussions with Richard Parry-Jones, Ford Vice
President of product development. Who knows, as a result future Ford cars could
well handle ever better in the wet! A few weeks after the dinner, Jonathan
crashed at Abu Dhabi in the last race of the 1997 season. Despite wrecking the
boat in a spectacular corkscrew accident, he was fortunately uninjured but to
add a sad note to the year-end, came the news that his sponsor, Gold Leaf, were
withdrawing from the sport in 1998.
Undeterred, Jonathan is building new
boats to contest the 1998 season. We wish him well in an exciting sport that
disappointingly receives scant coverage by the UK media.
*The Tom Pryce Trophy commemorates
Wales’ greatest racing driver who was tragically killed in a freak accident in
the 1977 South Africa Grand Prix.