Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 22nd 2014 Contents 15
Issue 154 • Friday, August 22, 2014
The date: Saturday August 23. The event: The
Carib Great Race between Trinidad and Tobago. One
man who has seen it all and done it all is veteran
racer Ken Charles. The man behind the vessel
known as "Mr. Solo" has won this event more than
any other but despite this he insists that every year
As is the case with all participants, preparation is
very important and getting your vessel ready in some
instances begins after the previous year's race is com-
For more than 40 years, Charles has been compet-
ing in the annual Trinidad to Tobago race and although
he has won more times than any other, there is still
that nervous, expectant feeling when race day ap-
To ensure that the boat is ready, it is taken for at
least three practice runs on part of the course. But ac-
cording to Charles, "nothing prepares you for the ac-
This year for instance there will be a change to the
course and factors such as the weather will be crucial
to the outcome of the race, says Charles. For instance,
the Bocas, which is known for its difficult waters, and
he notes that it will be very tough especially with the
In addition, Charles says, the Macqueripe and Mara-
cas waters will have "swells" which will make navigat-
ing very difficult.
However Charles will call on the experience of throt-
tle-man Darren Marshall and navigator Gino Fusco,
with the man himself at the wheels.
His 40-foot boat has been taken through its paces
and he hopes that the 2014 edition will be less event-
ful. During last year's race they had to stop midway in
order to cool down their cabin before proceeding.
That cost them time and the top spot with "Mon-
ster" the eventual winner of the 2013 edition.
Looking ahead to this year, Charles singled out
"Monster" as well as "Fire-One" and "Stampede" as
the main threats to him winning this year's race.
Charles hailed the 1985 race as his most memorable
win since his two sons, Sheldon and Curtis, were on
board with him and they were able to come from be-
hind to edge the eventual second-placed boat by just
On May 2, 1993, Charles was involved in an accident
while competing in a competition in Antigua with his
sons Sheldon and Curtis. While Charles survived the
crash, unfortunately his sons did not make it out alive.
It would take a lot of courage to get back on the wa-
ters, far less race competitively after that accident.
After a family meeting with his wife daughter and his
other son Hayden, he decided to continue racing.
From 1999, Charles would experience his most suc-
cessful run in the Great Race series, as he would grab
the title four times in a row.
After his Great Race victory in 2002, Charles hung
up his helmet and symbolically handed over his dri-
ver's jersey to his son Hayden at the end of the race,
signaling his retirement from racing.
But this retirement would be cut short as he just
could not resist the urge to enter the 2010 edition of
the Great Race.
Charles donned the signature bright yellow, red and
orange uniform, for the race which featured a changed
course, including a new starting point in the waters off
the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Port of Spain.
There was also a new finish point as well, off the Es-
planade in Scarborough, Tobago.
Charles boarded a 40-foot Bob Schism Formula 3
Catamaran that could attain speeds of up to 140 mph,
but unfortunately the vessel broke down during the
course of the race and they failed to finish.
In 1965, Joseph Charles passed away, and was suc-
ceeded as head of Joseph Charles Bottling Works by
his eldest son, Vernon. However in 1969, Ken Charles,
Joseph Charles' youngest son bought out Vernon and
became the new owner of what is today known as
Joseph Charles Bottling Works and Investments Lim-
Charles is the founder of the Trinidad and Tobago
Power Boat Association (TTPBA) which was formed
in 1974 and has grown significantly as the years go by.
With the death of his good friend Brian Bowen the
production of boats in Trinidad and Tobago has
grinded to a halt. Enthusiasts now have to explore the
U.S.A. markets including Charles.
He has always tried to make sure that his boat has
that little bit extra especially when it comes to the an-
nual race between Trinidad and Tobago.
Even at 70, Charles has not lost his enthusiasm and
passion for the sport and looks forward to the annual
Great Race held every August.
Kenneth Charles is currently the owner and manag-
ing director of Solo Beverages.
Mark Anthony Scott
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