Thrills and spills for spectators and competitors as powerboat series is followed by Tall ships in 2010

Marine officials in the North-East are building up for a series of events in 2009-10 that they hope will put the region back on the international boating map.

A total of 34 Thundercat racing boats are expected to compete at a 10-race event off Seaton Carew at the end of May.

Similar to the Zap Cat fleet, the twin-hulled inflatable Thundercats have 50hp outboards and race in big waves often leaping vertically out of the water leaving the crew and the helm hanging on to the boats for dear life before returning to the water.

With a set of specifications and class rules governed by the RYA, the circuit has extensive safety regulations and lifeguards on hand in case of collisions, capsize or other accidents.

Five races will be take place each day on Saturday, May 23, and Sunday, May 24, with spectators watching from Seaton beach.

In 2010, the town will welcome a magnificent fleet of around 100 tall ships after being chosen by race organisers Sail Training International to be the finishing point for the race.

The Tall Ships’ Races 2010 will continue the next stage of Hartlepool’s regeneration, showcasing Hartlepool Marina as a training camp for the Olympic Games 2012 and building momentum for the substantial investment programme of the Victoria Harbour Development on the same site, which is planned to commence in earnest following the Tall Ships event in 2010.