Bad start changes race results


ANNAPOLIS -- At noon yesterday off Sandy Point State Park, the D Class in the Chesapeake Challenge offshore powerboat races throttled up toward the starting line behind the pace boat, but then strange things began to happen.

Before reaching the starting line, the class split and only three of 11 entrants managed to cross the starting line proper. The others ran to the inside of the course and raced for the first turn.

Edgar Rose, head of the American Power Boat Association, which sanctions these races, said at the time that probably all the boats that had missed the starting line would be penalized the elapsed time it took them to finally cross the line.

But the solution was not so simple. Only a lengthy session in the protest room could sort out the standings after yesterday's races.

Race committee member Bill Novitch said the starting area was improperly marked by the race committee, and under APBA scoring rules, a time penalty cannot be assessed in that situation.

"The APBA rules dictate that all checkpoint [course markers] boats must fly a 3-by-5 foot orange flag, and another flag of distinction as directed by the local race committee," Novitch said. "None of the committee boats was flying that [orange] flag."

Also, at the drivers' meeting yesterday morning, the racers were told that the pace boat would lead them out to the forming area through the starting gate. Instead, Novitch said, the pace boat lead the field through the inside area of the triangular course, which compounded the problem.

The result of the post-race deliberations was that Aero Express, moved from second to first, Smokey and the Bandit moved to second and Flying Tiger dropped to third in Class D.

Bad Move, crewed by William and Douglas Durham of Clayton, N.Y., flipped over at the top of the second leg during the 68-mile race. None aboard was injured.

But in Class B, Team Strike, driven by Joe Trombley of Hamburg, N.Y., flipped and throttleman Alex Murchison of North Tonawanda, N.Y., injured his left leg and ribs while being ejected from the boat as it left the water.

The flips by Bad Move and Team Strike, both catamarans, are the only two in the history of the Chesapeake Challenge. Conditions yesterday were ideal, with a slight chop and very little breeze.

LTC In Class B, Network Express, with Art Lilly of Millersville at the throttles and Frank Blatt of Annapolis driving, finished in second place.

Empty Pockets, a Class A boat driven by Brooke Dyer of Millersville, finished in third place.

Points earned are cumulative in the two-race series.

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