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Althorne Lake

Regatta roundup

Three meetings so far this season, the first exceedingly cold that put all but the most hardy off, although it did see Tony Collins start the year where he left of in October with a 133mph run. The second was very windy so that only the bold and brave ventured on to the water, whilst the third coincided with that most un-British phenomenon, a warm and sunny Bank Holiday.

Record temperatures elsewhere, but just up from the River Crouch it was delightful, with all the prospects of a good day’s running, if only? First on were the airscrew boats, now fifty years since the MPBA recognised them as a class. Dave Smith had two perfect launches and two yip free runs at 112/113mph and called it a day, not bad for a standard MDS that was definitely short on compression. Of the others, Rick Neal’s Proffi showed just what it might do, if it could complete five timed laps at those speeds, while John Underwood was trying every combination of botching his launches. The A1 class is certainly on the up at present with seven competitors in this class, including the newest recruits, Stuart Falconer and Ron Hankins, although on this occasion they showed what temperamental little beings they are with not a single run being completed.

Tony Collins' B1 Sport Diesel side winder Rick Neal's B1

The A2 Class was quite tight with Steve Poyser beating Mark Hankins by less than 1mph. Mark took the honours on the day with an unblemished three starts and three completed runs. Ron Hankins had a day that he would prefer to forget no doubt with a most uncharacteristic series of failures for no immediately fathomable reasons. A3 saw Ray Cox miss what could have been his best run ever as the OPS was still coming up when he put his hand up. John Hyder achieved what is a vain hope for many of us, a run with a Picco, which even Tony Collins struggled with for the first two rounds. In round three he got closer to a good needle setting at 126mph with a boat that is so fast, but so touchy on the needle.

Sport 40 was interesting, as Stuart Falconer seemed to find the only breeze of the day on consecutive laps to see his boat fly happily just after the platform, coming down right way up each time. Alan Greenfield has now got his asymmetric boat with the lay down engine running correctly, recording his second fastest speed ever. Bryn Colman has joined him in the ‘odd design’ stakes with another asymmetric hull and an even more unusual engine, a laid down ED Super Hunter diesel. Given the lack of umph and revs from this 1950s design it was expecting a bit much, but it could work. His more conventional S40 look on for a very respectable run until he left it too late and saw the boat run out of fuel before the five laps were up.

Engine guru Taff Bolen, who was on hand all day, pointed out the importance of having engines that started first go, but even more vital is keeping the things running at racing speed, a quest that many struggled with on the day, a most inexact science compared with F2A.

Speed round up.

8th April: B1 Class Rick Neal 102.5mph B1S Class John Underwood 92.65 A2 Class John Underwood 101.85mph A3 Class Tony Collins 133.87mph

20th April: AB Class Ron Hankins 114.69mph A3 Class Tony Collins 121.15mph A2 Class Steve Poyser 95.38mph
Sport 40
Class Stuart Falconer 90.91mph

6th May: A3 Class Tony Collins 126.70mph John Hyder 116.02mph Ray Cox 111.94mph

B1S Dave Smith 113,89mph A2 Class Steve Poyser 113.64mph Mark Hankins 112.96mph

Sport 40 Class Stuart Falconer 89.06mph Alan Greenfield 61.34mph

 Althorne 20th May

It was an enjoyable day, the water was quite flat and everyone was pleased with their runs. Ron Hankins was trying hard with his new CMB powered A1 but only achieved half a lap so it’s back to the workshop for some mods. Ray Cox had three good runs although running in a new piston and liner, so very pleased with 114, 111, 110mph.

Steve Poyser was running his new A1 engine that went well, as did his A2. Mark Hankins  was running his Picco  A2  managing three consistent runs at 111, 113, 110mph, something of an achievement on the day. Norman Lara also ran an A2, now with a few modifications to it and was happy with the motor.

A pensive Steve Poyser Dave Sheldrake, new B1 Pete Dirs on Starting duty

Dave Sheldrake had his new B1S with a Nova Rossi and was running very well, but the model pecked in and broke in 3 pieces, so back to the workshop for him for major repairs. Pete Dirs is still struggling to get a needle setting with his B1 although he deserves a medal for persistence.

Ron Hankins had his new A/B out for the first time but had problems setting it up, but looks it will be a good model, so back to the workshop for that one as well. Ron also ran the new B class engine that he built during the winter and this performed very well with a run at 119mph.

The 'Hankins' stable. A2 B AB/R Ray Cox and Dave Dave Sheldrake's secondhand B1

John Hyder was running his A3 but the Picco engine was not happy (when are they) so he brought out his other boat, which is a real ‘blast from the past’, being a sidewinder with the motor laying down and it showed very good speed after a very long lay up in the garage.  A good day in all

B1 Class Pete Dirs 84.73mph B1S Class Dave Sheldrake 91.40mph B Class Ron Hankins 119.56mph
A2 Class Mark Hankins 113.7mph Steve Poyser 99.64mph A3 Class Ray Cox 114.13mph

Oh what a perfect day

So goes the lyrics of the song, and in terms of the weather it was, an almost perfect day for tethered hydroplane racing. The fly in the ointment is the ongoing struggle that almost everyone seems to be suffering from at present, that of getting a hydroplane round five timed laps at racing speed. The failures were many and varied, covering the explicable, the botched launches and engines breaking with an ominous thud, to the entirely inexplicable, that has been evident for far too long, where they just won’t go.

Dave Smith, after two perfect launches last time out, found a far too tight bungee responsible for the first two failures with his B1S and then had the boat peck in after a perfect launch, mid way through a very quick run. Pete Dirs new, all carbon, B1 persisted in going round in ever decreasing circles leaving only Stuart Falconer managing a timed run on the light line. His little A1 sounds sweet enough but is way off the pace he is looking for, but it is going round, the first challenge. Unfortunately it also has an annoying habit of pecking it at the conclusion of the run, which it did twice. Ron Hankins has also joined the A1 ranks, something of a contrast to the mighty 15cc boats he usually runs.

Stuart Falconer's A1 Mark Hankins' A2 Steve Poyser's A2

Mark Hankins has been very consistent with his Picco A2 but only managed one run this time, again, nowhere near as fast as he is aiming for. Steve Poyser managed one run before a brand new exhaust sheared in half, whilst Lynn Blowers had the rod on her OPS snap the instant she launched. A perfect launch with a dead engine, with the boat coming to rest as it came off the bungee. For consistency though it was hard to beat Stuart Falconer and his Sport 40. As he puts it, a true S40 with a standard Irvine motor rather than a more expensive and trick motor. Three runs at 90mph with the final two just 1/100th different. Five out of six runs completed and more than the rest of us put together, well-done Stuart.

Stuart Falconer's S40 Ron Hankins' A1 Broken again

Last up were the A3s and a bit thin on the ground. Hugh Blowers’ Picco insisted on being a Picco and did get round once, but at a very sedate speed. Tony Collins’ similar motor refused to respond to his manipulations of the needle and never looked like going. Lynn Blowers decided on an ‘early release’ of her OPS, before her pit crew had finished work, so everyone got wet. In the second round, she held on until the ‘lollipop man' said go, launching perfectly to her first run of the season and her second fastest ever at 124mph, the top speed of the day.

Thanks to Sonia Collins for timing and recording all day and compiling the results. A wonder her DNS and DNF pen did not run out during the day?

Leading Results:

A1 Class Stuart Falconer 67.81mph A2 Class Mark Hankins 110.47mph Steve Poyser 102.23mph

S40 Class Stuart Falconer 90.96mph A3 Class Lynn Blowers 124.88mph Norman Lara 115.62mph