Nobody though was quite prepared for the conditions that greeted all the teams when they arrived at the Lake. Due to the weather not going to plan the mornings timetable was hastily rearranged. Finally, the strong wind changed direction and racing got under way.
The weekend’s race format would see two groups of seven boats having a qualifying session then racing two heats before they would both merge together for the final race.
When qualifying finally got underway Ewen Bricker posted the fastest time in his group which included several of the fancied runners. Due to not meeting the correct weight both Damon Cohen and Matt Smith were sent to the back of the group. In the second group Sam Lucas, Brock Cohen, and Rhys Coles could barely be separated in their qualifying session.
Unfortunately Heat One for the ‘Odds’ group would see heartbreak for Bricker after his prop shaft snapped leaving him stranded on the course.
With no spare gearcase it meant that he would take no further part in the weekend’s racing.
Then with just three minutes to go Matt Smith rolled out at turn five in his Pugh hull leaving the OOD with little choice but to red flag the heat. Damon Cohen would take first place followed by Simon Troy.
Heat One for the ‘Evens Group’ was dominated by Brock Cohen who led from start to finish. He was followed home by Sam Lucas, who had set a faster qualifying time than Cohen. Kaine Casson had been having a great drive, however he hit a turn buoy resulting in a two-lap penalty which dropped him down the results sheet.
The following day would once again start with the organisers hoping the winds would calm down enough to allow racing to get under way. Eventually the competitors were allowed to line up in their groups again, this time though the grid would be in reverse order of their Heat One finishing positions.
That would mean Casson in his Optimax powered Moore hull would start from pole. As the green followed by the white flag dropped, he struggled to get off the line and Brock Cohen surged into the lead from sixth on the grid. By the end of the eight-minute Heat Two Cohen had taken the chequered flag but amazingly Casson had fought his way up from fourth place to take second.
Heat Two for the ‘Odds Group’ had Joel Smith lining up in pole position with his Mercury powered 2.5litre GTR hull but at the very last minute he had to pull out due to his safety gear failing. As the race got under way Simon Troy swept into an early lead. It didn’t last long though as he was soon past by Damon Cohen who had the Baba hull set up perfectly for the tough choppy water conditions. Smith Racing were having the race to forget after Joel Smith had to head back to the pits and now his father Matt came to a stop due to a gearcase failure which the team believe may have been the aftermath of hitting a turn buoy. With just four minutes remaining Cohen had opened a half a lap advantage over Troy who in turn was sitting comfortably in second position and that’s how it finished.
So, as the remaining thirteen drivers lined up for the Final it would be the Cohen brothers that lined up in first and second on the grid with Troy in the third spot. At the green and white flags dropped both Cohen brothers made a great start, but it would be Brock that would take the early lead. Within three laps Damon had caught and passed his brother who now had Sam Lucas filling his rear-view mirrors. With the top four now extending their lead they were beginning to close on the backmarkers. Troy was the first to encounter an issue though after he drove over the chequered buoy and was stranded by turn two.
As Damon Cohen was working his way through those back markers, he approached turn two with Riley Wellham in his Burgess hull just ahead. To avoid Troy, he tried to thread himself between the stationary Molgaard and Wellham but just caught the Burgess hull. In the impact Cohen sponson was damaged and his trim got stuck all the way up. He continued to race around the course stuck at full trim, but it meant he was unable to race at full speed and quickly fell back to fourth place just behind Coles.
This meant that Brock Cohen had now inherited the lead after the demise of his brother and with the race nearing its fourteen minutes and one lap conclusion, he managed to hold off the fast-charging Lucas and ‘walk away’ with victory in Albury.
As the team were assessing the ‘highs and lows’ Brock said
Damon and I are incredibly happy with the pace we showed this weekend. Straight out of the box we were on the money. We have spent two years developing this formula to work for us and it was a compliment to be so competitive in such a high-quality field.
Damon said he had mixed emotions, but the team would go home with a great handful of points and showed the rest of the field just how competitive both boats are.
When Lucas went to collect his second-place trophy he said
We came with a plan to finish and to keep it upright this weekend. Second place is still hard to comprehend though.
It had been a tough weekend for Rhys Coles who came home in third place.
I wasn’t driving well at all and yesterday I really felt extremely uncomfortable in the boat. The crew were up early this morning changing transom heights and moving the weight around in the boat. We then found the DAC was getting better and better. Before the final I spoke to a friend of mine in America about propellors, so we decided to go with something different and it really worked. The condition got better, and I thought I have got to have a go here from seventh and I managed to work my way up through the field, but those Cohen Brothers were super-fast all weekend.
Brock Cohen left Albury with the maximum points haul of 800. (200 x 2 for the heat wins and 400 x 1 for the final win) and when he spoke to PRW he said
We will now have a busy couple of months to get ready for Round Two in Mulwala, plus my first baby is due four days before the race, so fingers crossed he comes early enough so we can attempt to or try to extend our championship lead.
Round One Finals Result – Lake Hume Resort, Albury, NSW
1 / 98 – Brock COHEN- Cohen Bros Racing
2 / 15 – Sam LUCAS- RM Marine Jackson
3 / 14 – Rhys COLES- Rhys Coles Racing
4/ 55 – Damon COHEN- Cohen bros Racing
5 / 360 – Kaine CASSON- Casson Racing
6 / 117 – Kye CORNALL- 117 Motorsport
7 / 66 – Joel SMITH- Smith Racing
8 / 48 – Greg BANKS- Octane Racing
9 / 65 – Matt SMITH- Smith Racing
10 / 28 – Dean ALLISON- Allison Racing
11/ 24 – Riley WELLHAM- Wellham Racing
12 / 108 – Mathew WASTLE- 108 Racing
DNF / 888 – Simon TROY- 888 Racing
DNS / 6 – Ewan BRICKER- Bricker Racing