Cool Cat

Storied British automaker Jaguar has been racking up results with paradigm-shifting vehicles like its FIA Formula E racer and the battery-powered I-PACE. But not all the action is happening on pavement. The famed marque recently signed a partnership with Vector, maker of the world’s fastest, coolest offshore powerboats. Newly minted Jaguar Vector Racing will campaign the eye-popping V40R decked out in speedy red livery in a number of high-profile endurance races in 2018, and they plan to break no less than a dozen marine world records in the process. The wicked-looking 40-ft. craft, designed and built by Vector Powerboats in Vancouver, Canada, is powered by twin 1,100 hp Mercury engines and is capable of a top speed in excess of 120 mph, so that’s no idle boast.

Offshore powerboat racing has an interesting history, so it’s a natural fit for a brand with impressive heritage like Jaguar – and there’s an automotive connection to boot. The sport was first established in 1903 by the Automobile Club of Great Britain and Ireland, when the vessels were known as “auto-boats.” The first recorded race in the U.S. took place in California in 1911. These days most of the offshore – i.e. ocean-going – powerboat racing in the world as well as record attempts are overseen by the Union Internationale Motonautique (UIM) and the American Power Boat Association.

One place Jaguar Vector Racing plans to make a splash is at the Venture Offshore Cup, aka “the world’s longest, toughest and most prestigious powerboat race”, covering over 1,000 miles of Ireland’s stunning, and often turbulent, coastline. These aren’t short sprints for pure speed, but rather the ocean-going equivalent of the great automotive endurance races like the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and there’s a real risk of catastrophe. Vector is also looking to build on past success at the glamorous but equally challenging Cowes Classic Offshore Powerboat Race.

Vector had previously campaigned the V40R in collaboration with Martini Racing, and was the only British powerboat team in history to officially carry the iconic Martini Racing stripes. The boat was initially unveiled at the Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix, and the team was extremely successful over the course of a three-year partnership. In 2014 the team won the prestigious Cowes Classic Endurance Race for the first time, and repeated the feat in 2015. They also racked up an impressive 15 UIM world endurance records in the process. Now we’ll see what Jaguar can do.

“The Vector team is very proud to be aligning with a great British brand like Jaguar,” says Vector CEO Mal Crease,” and to be joining such a technically pioneering partnership which will push the boundaries of performance and technical excellence.” “Jaguar is a performance brand and Vector are the epitome of power and performance on the water,” adds Mark Cameron, Jaguar’s Director of Experiential Marketing. “We have some very exciting plans for Jaguar Racing especially as we move towards an electric future and continue our mission ‘Race to Innovate’.” Posh British sailing apparel brand Henri Lloyd has also signed on as a sponsor.

Want to get in on the action? Vector will build a version of the V40R, the V40GT, to your specifications for around £1 million, or about $1.35 million. When there are enough hulls in the water the company plans to organize a one-make racing series, akin to supercar events like the Lamborghini Super Trofeo. And because it’s so incredibly fast they’ll even give you some basic training in how to handle it at high speed.