After the disappointment of not being able to race yesterday, the competitors taking part in the opening round of the 2022 UIM Pleasure Navigation World Championship in Benalmádena, Spain were finally able to unleash the horsepower.
Having two heats around a course that was far from flat was always going to be tough on both the crews and machinery and by the end of the day there were broken boats up and down the pit lane. Those who could master survival would leave Spain with a bag of points towards their championship title hopes.
The largest class competing here this weekend was the Boat Production one, with Buby Bertels and Nico De Stoop looking like pre-event favourites to regain their world title. They had been eager to get going ever since Friday morning and when the green flag was raised from the start boat for heat one, they quickly sped off into the distance. Two laps later though the race was red flagged, and the teams were motoring their way back to the marina, all except Valentino Basile and his new navigator Fabrizio Dal Pazzolo.
The Italians had taken an extremely hard hit in their Ocke Mannerfelt B23 after flying over two waves they completely stuffed the hull into a third. Fortunately, neither of them was hurt in the impact and the Spanish Rescue Teams were very quickly on the scene taking the hull under tow and plucking the crew from the sea.
Safely back ashore Basile spoke to PRW about the incident.
We were pushing hard for second place, which was always the plan. So, we moved to the inside line at the start of the breakwater and felt the boat fly a little bit further than expected and the next second we are completely under water. Maybe we need to look at the balance of the boat before the next round.
The OOD then decided that even though they were about to start the third lap he wanted to start the heat again. The Kuwait Team of Bader Aldousari and Mohammed Alessaei had been struggling up until the red flag with an oil pressure alarm going off every lap. So, when all the teams headed back in the marina, their Kuwaiti mechanics quickly topped up their Mercury 250 engine with oil and sent them back out to race. It didn’t last long though as the alarm went off again forcing them to retire with oil leaking from the crankcase.
When the green flag was raised for a second time Hagen Jerzynski and Stef Scheepers quickly took the lead in their Graünner Stilette 27. They had seen during the previous start that the pace had been a lot slower than usual when the green flag was waved, so this time they knew what to expect. Their day would eventually come to a grinding halt after a bracket on their Mercury 200 engine broke and punched a hole in the oil pan, leaving them to be towed back in on the very last lap. A six-thousand-kilometre round trip with no championship points was a bitter pill to swallow.
Sure, we are incredibly happy with the boat set up, especially since we have only had the hull for two months, but our chances of a World Championship have taken a punch on the nose.
Bertels and De Stoop would take the chequered flag followed by another Bernico FTX 27 driven by Jan-Cees Korteland and his brother Paul.
Jan-Cees Korteland said
We didn’t have enough fuel in the boat which meant we had to back off and not pressure the leaders. So, when you then racing that’s when mistakes happen, and we nearly submerged the hull in the turn past the breakwater. Fortunately for us only the rubber rail around the hull came loose as it could have been a lot worse.
The Puma Racing Team of Xavier Derille and Jeroen Haverbeke in their eight-metre rib crossed the line in third place even though they had broken the bracket of their trim pump.
Everyone has broken something this weekend.
After a two-hour break it was time to go out again for heat two but by then the field had lost three competitors. During the lunch break, the Bernico Factory Team had fitted a new Mercury 300 R engine to one of their customers raceboats, the Belgium team of Reginald Goelen and Jochen Revis who had not even managed to complete one lap in heat one. Before they had reached the muster area after a reconnaissance lap two top bolts had snapped off in the Mercury mid-section breaking the drive shaft, leaving them stranded on the course.
Now with a fresh engine they left everyone else behind as the green flag was once again raised. The Korteland brothers gave chase but even they had to settle for second place once again. A cylinder issue with their Mercury engine meant Bertels and De Stoop were limited to just 50 mph and decided at that point that survival and getting the boat home in one piece was now the priority.
With a total of 625 points, they still claimed the top step of the podium in what became a Bernico benefit with two other FTX 27 teams standing either side of them.
After the podium Bertels told PRW
It’s been a great weekend; we could not have asked for a better start to the season. As a company owner it’s really important for us to take the top three position here although I will have to start being careful as they are starting to catch up with me.
Boat Production Class Points after Spain.
- BUBY BERTELS / NICO DE STOOP B-91 (Belgium) 625 points
- JAN-CEES KORTELAND/PAUL KORTELAND / B-15 (Netherlands) 600 points
- REGINALD GOELEN / JOCHEN REVIS / B-85 (Belgium) 400 points
- XAVIER DERILLE /JEROEN HAVERBEKE / B-62 (Belgium) 394 points
- VALENTINO BASILE / FABRIZIO DAL POZZOLO / B-5 (Italy) 0 points
- BADER ALDOUSARI / MOHAMMED ALESSAEI / B-24 (Kuwait) 0 points
- HAGEN JERZYNSKI / STEF SCHEEPERS / B-815 (Germany) 0 points