The region’s tourism industry is set for a multi-million pound cash boost after it was announced a prestigious powerboat racing event would again team up with the Lowestoft Air Festival to create a four-day summer extravaganza.
Organisers of the Honda Formula 4 Stroke championships announced they would return to the country’s most easterly resort in July after last summer’s event proved a huge success, with nearly 350,000 people flocking to the seafront to watch the boats and planes.
The air festival alone is thought to pump about £11m into the area’s economy every year while last year’s power boat grand prix was estimated to have created in the region of £2m.
Next year’s event will see the Lowestoft air show grace the skies on July 24 and 25 with the power boats taking to the water during the following two days.
The announcement, made in Lowestoft, came after high level talks between Honda officials and air festival organisers.
Air festival managing director Paul Bayfield said: “I am thrilled. It was quite dramatic; there were a lot of talks and phone calls before they came back with the news that we are green to go.
“It should mean some good financial rewards for the air festival. We’ve got a four-day event to sell to sponsors and advertisers rather than two days.”
This year’s event got off to a slow start when bad weather on the first day of the air show saw a disappointing attendance figure of 90,000, but the sun came out on day two and encouraging 170,000 to the seafront.
Another 75-80,000 spectators were estimated to have watch two days of high quality power boat racing where the natural amphitheatre of Lowestoft beach was seen as providing a perfect venue for the races.
Air show organisers are still waiting to confirm the main sponsors for next year’s event, but say it will definitely go ahead as planned. The free event relies on sponsorship deals and donations from spectators, and is also set to receive £10,000 from Waveney District Council.
Abbie James, spokesman for the Honda Formula 4 Stroke championships, said she was sure powerboat racing in Lowestoft would become a permanent fixture.
“Because of the success of the event in July, we would be foolish not to come back. There’s a lot of potential in this area,” she added.
Fans will also see the Lowestoft-based team from Lings Honda participate in the more power 225hp section after finishing second in the 150hp race last year. They went on to win the overall series and took possession of their more powerful boat yesterday.
The Eastern Lights charity motorbike cavalcade has also confirmed that it will ride from Norwich to Lowestoft on Sunday, July 27, to tie in with the powerboat racing.