We once again travelled down to Sydney for the 2008 Winter Spectacular, the only event where you have a winner take all final for open petrol hydro, open petrol mono, X Mono, X Hydro and 1/8 Scale.
It was very different for me this year as I would not be defending the two of the biggest titles, the 1/8th Scale Silver Cup, which I relabelled "Grub's Cup" as we have won it for the past three years and also didn't have the new twin rigger ready to defend the X Hydro Pete Purcell Memorial Cup.
I almost didn't make it to the event due to a car accident a couple of days before but with help from the in-laws and a few offers of assistance from other racers we got down there on Friday morning for practice. It was a nice change for us, as we had been experiencing torrential rain for the three days prior and it wasn't raining in Sydney. We got everything set up and then I collected my new engine from Winksy for the 21 Seaducer, as I blew the greenhead up a couple of weeks before and within an hour we had it running around. After 1/2 tank of juice I thought it may be good enough. 1/2 tank through the 90 Seaducer and the 45 Seaducer stayed in the trailer as it is my favourite boat and it very rarely lets me down (famous last words).
Saturday morning we were greeted with torrential rain (looks like we brought it down with us) and everyone got out the rain coats for the day. There were a few guys up from Victoria and they tried for an hour to tough it out in the rain but eventually had enough and went down to the camping place and got a gazebo to keep themselves dry (good move that one).
First round of racing got under way and it didn't get off to the best start for an event. The first heat was electric hydro which went with no trouble but then there was computer problems due to the rain. Once these were fixed the next two heats of C hydro produced no finishers and we started to think that the conditions are going to test us. Back to the pit area, lengthen pipes and richen the mixtures so that we have a more reliable base before we start. First up I had X Mono and squared up against Steve Winks for the first time. He got the jump at the start due the two other boats crossing lanes in front of me around buoy 5 and 6 putting me well behind. I caught up to the two boats again, overtaking the first one on the second lap and on the third lap around buoy 6 the second place boat went from lane 4 or 5 to almost hitting the buoy and putting me up in the air. I banged my hand on the railing thinking that was it but the old man grabbed me and said its still running. We cruised around for a hard earned third place. Thank god for the longer pipe and being a little rich which kept the boat going when we flipped it. Dad than raced his petrol Seaducer and raced hard for a third place.
Next was the unproven 21 Mac Seaducer and we hade had no idea what was going to happen. The little bastard surprised us and hauled ass but two buoy cuts meant we lost a few points. The B Mono was interesting as we were up against Brett Ward and the two boats are almost indentical in speed. Brett got the jump on us and was able to cruise around but we got the second and banked the points. We had the same trouble in that heat as the X Mono due to drivers not holding their lanes, one instance coming in on me and causing me to take avoiding action by cutting a buoy, which cost me in the long run. First rould wasn't that great but banked some points.
Second round on Saturday afternoon was again affected by the rain. Took an easy win in X Mono, just cruised around only had to open it up three or four times just to keep a decent lead and take the win. Dad and his petrol Seaducer nailed the start and held off two other competitors to take a win. The A Mono took off like a shot duck and took the win, surprising us once again. The second round of B Mono was held on Sunday morning and the weather was much better and it was starting to look like it was going to be a nice day. The B Mono than gave us the biggest shock of the weekend, in the lead, last lap, rounding buoy 6 and the boat launched itself off the water and dunked giving the win to Wardy. This is the most frustrating thing when you need to score points in every heat as there are only three rounds.
The third round produced no surpises for me, another cruisy run in X Mono, the A Mono ran around like it had a firecracker up its backside and the B Mono took the win as well, although Dad was fighting for second in his heat and caught a rooster tail and flipped. After the three rounds were completed, I ended up with 1st Place in A Mono, with no little practice and a new engine, 2nd place in B Mono thanks to the dunk in the second heat and qualified second for the X Mono final behind Steve Winks while Dad surprisingly got third in Petrol Mono.
The X Mono shootout final was looking good as we had some of the best X Monos in Australia lining up although without Tony Jones, the X Mono king, it wasn't the best field ever assembled. As the countdown approached the start Winksy and I were side by side and as it hit zero we took off. We went down the straight side by side less than a foot apart (geez its good when you can trust a fellow competitor that much) and he took the inside lane around the first turn with both of us just squeezing inside a dead boat. Then there was another dead boat in the back straight which caused me to back off to avoid it and it was all over. Now I had to contend with someone catching me but our boat was quick enough to stay ahead and we battled the rough water to secure second place.
Not a bad weekend, a first, two seconds, ony used 4 litres of race fuel, two glow plugs and an exhaust silicone. Probably one of the more enjoyable (other than the weather) weekends of racing I've had in a long time. No expectation to win the scale trophy again, no twin hydro to fuel and maintain, so I had not much pressure and plenty of spare time to talk to everyone and watch some good racing. So I had good fun and it didn't cost me too much, can't ask for much more.
Our club guys performed very well, Al won the Silver Cup, Ashley battled the twins with his single X hydro and got third in the final and Paul (White Ice) won petrol cat. I'm sure there were other trophies, I think Al got a place in sport hydro as well but my memory is gone as I type this.
It was funny to see Steve Winks collect the first place trophy for petrol sport hydro with quite a few people in the crowd yelling "Gas Gronk" and then he pointed at Wild Bill saying "You're gonna get one next". I think Bill is dreading the day he said he would allow people to bend him over before he gets a petrol boat.
Next year, if I get may act together and finish a few boats we should be able to enter a few more classes and get that adrenalin pumping. Its nice to watch the racing but there is nothing like racing the twin and winning a winner take all final. So now back to the shed, I need to finish the new scale boat and the open petrol hydro and Dad's almost finished the new twin.
As it was Fathers Day on the Sunday, I have to thank my Dad. It was great to see him get a heat win and end up with the fastest time in his class. Happy Fathers Day mate.
Next meeting on the cards for us is the Hunter Valley Championships in November. See you all there.