It was little over month ago that I was left asking myself if my 2010 dream of a World Championship title was a possibility or shattered before the season had even started.
The race promoters pulled out leaving the Powerboat P1 teams without a championship. But with the passion and commitment that powerboat racers possess in abundance, race officials and competitors alike made sure the season continued.
Meanwhile it was back to business for me with a new team and sponsor to promote.
I headed to the Jersey Boat Show to meet Jersey’s TV Chef Shaun Rankin as we opened the show by cutting a very, large, old fishing rope with a chef’s knife to fanfare by Royal Marine trumpeters.
The third annual Jersey Boat Show, in association with Barclays Wealth, attracted thousands of islanders and mainlanders.
I caught up with a familiar face in UK ‘Windy’ sales representative and ex Zapcat Racer, Ben Toogood, who had brought boats over specifically for the show.
“Everyone here in Jersey has been very helpful and it has all been incredibly well put together,” he said.
With the show over my attentions quickly turned to Yalta and the first Grand prix of the season but to say I was unenthusiastic for my first race in a new boat, new team and new season was an understatement.
The last few months have been so discouraging that the easiest option would have been to pull out and take the year off I have been promising myself for the past 14 years.
But I pushed myself like many of my racing colleagues, race officials and organisers and we pulled off one of the best powerboating events the sport has ever seen, with no main promoter on board.
Yalta in the Ukraine was an excellent venue topped with an excellent opening and closing ceremony and 20,000 adoring public.
Patrick and I along with the rest of the Spirit of Belgium team did not have much time for practice but we took our new Nortech Boat out for the pole position race on the Friday and secured second place in one of our first outings together as a team.
Friday’s weather was calm and the boat was handling well. Things were looking good but Saturday saw an unexpected change. Gale force gusts swept across the marina and Black Sea, stopping practice and making launching near impossible.
Back on the trailer the pit crew noticed that the lead ballast bags had split and dispersed everywhere in the boat. There was mad panic and a big team effort to get it scooped up and replaced with solid lead plates in the 45 mins before the start.
We could not have run without the ballast. We would have been underweight at the end of the race and disqualified.
The race was hard and fast with a big swell and lots of airborne moments but the boat handled brilliantly and the 2600hp Mercury Supercharged engines did not miss a beat.
A bad start saw us in sixth place and drenched by other boats’ spray which should have provided intercom problems but the new DS Development Neptune system helped us secure the third place in our first race together.
On Sunday after a much better start in better weather we quickly pulled back the places to second and began the battle for first.
Spirit of Belgium #17 hounded Team Bahia #38 for nine laps but just could not get past their expert racing line.
They took gold and we took the silver medal for the Ukraine Grand Prix of the Sea and that puts us in a strong position for the next round in Malta on 11, 12 and 13 June.