Wettpunkt.com crew speak after nightmare start

Austrian Hannes Bohinc set the early pace as the Round Britain Powerboat Race kicked into life on Saturday, but then disaster struck as he blew his engines and he had to limp into Torquay.

The personable powerboating legend quipped: “We decided to go sightseeing in Torquay. It even has palm trees!”

But it was a major blow after his boat Wettpunkt.com looked strong against the very best in the race.

Bohinc said: “We were surprised just how quickly we took the lead and then concentrated on increasing the distance between ourselves and our rivals.

“The boat felt very good and the props provided by Fabio Buzzi were perfect for the job.”

“These things happen in powerboating,” he said. “It is hard to swallow but we do not intend to quit.

“This is the toughest of all endurance races and our competitors will face their own difficulties as the race progresses.”

“It will be a long night!” he then predicted, as his engineers began to think about how and where to replace Wettpunkt.com’s twin 820hp Isotta Fraschini engines.

He was right. The FB Design boat was transported by road to Plymouth where the team and Isotta Fraschini engineers worked until dawn to prepare the craft in readiness for the day’s racing.

“It was fantastic team effort from everyone, including the crane handlers who stayed late to wait for us,” said Bohinc the next morning.

“We found that the air intakes were allowing water in and eventually the engines flooded. We have made adjustments to prevent this happening again but won’t know until we are back out at sea whether the situation has been effectively resolved.”

The boat is back in action today on the third leg to Bangor, a distance of 201 nautical miles.

“We are ready to fight another day,” continues Bohinc. “The main objective of this great offshore adventure is to participate.

“Everyone has been so supportive. A great camaraderie exists amongst the teams who all have a common enemy, the elements!”

On board with Bohinc is another famous powerboating name, British Ed Williams-Hawkes (pictured).

Williams-Hawkes wears a patch after losing an eye in a powerboating accident more than 30 years ago and is known as ‘the pirate’.

He is regarded as one of the best navigators in the business and has more than 200 wins to his name, including in Class 3 the last time the Round Britain Race was held, in 1984.

Speaking before the start he said: “This is THE classic as far as I’m concerned and a huge challenge for everyone.

“We’ve got the boat and we’ll make sure the preparation is right, but you also need good fortune.

“You never know what you’re going to face and you have to respect every opponent. It’s not so much nerves I get going into a big race like this but panic.”

Williams-Hawkes maintains his injury made him a better and more determined competitor.

“I’ve never considered it a handicap,” he said. “In fact it’s worked the opposite way for me because I got more motivated by the accident. And I think the results have shown that.

“Part of my game is to slow down Hannes. You have to make the drivers realise there’s no point in going for it too soon and risk breaking something. The best strategy is to keep the leader in sight and then go for it in the later stages.”

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