US A Team Saturday update from Traben-Trabach Germany

At the onset of heat one it was a surprise to no one when defending champion Haugasmagi once again shot to the front followed by Strumnik. The battle raged for third as Allen passed Bazinski and Mrr in turn one and spent the rest of the heat trying his best to hold off the hard charging Bazinski who seemed to have top speed on the American but not quite enough to make the pass. When the checkered flag flew it was the speedy Estonian Hagausmagi with another heat win followed by Strumnik with Allen barely beating Bazinski to the line. England’s Marr rounded out the top five with Stepniak sixth and American Akerstrom finishing seventh.

Photo credit David Recht: Billy Allen and Dudley Smith of US A-Team can’t wait for Heat 2 at OSY400 World Championships in Traben-Trarbach, Germany.

Via the US A-Team Boat Racing Facebook Page

The core members of The U.S. A-Team assembled at The Parke Avenue Speedboat Cub in Quincy, Massachusetts last Tuesday to begin their run at The 2017 OSY-400 Word Championship. This year’s drivers, Mike Akerstrom and Billy Allen were joined by pit men Jimmy Cummings and Racer Allen where they boarded the taxi to Logan International Airport for the 10pm flight to Frankfurt Germany. The race will take place on June 4–5 on the scenic but challenging Mosel River. The course features one turn buoy at each end of the 800 meter straightaways with a bend in the tight river course. Upon landing in Frankfurt the four were picked up by fellow team members Dudley and Lois Smith and photographer David Recht for the two hour ride to the race venue of Traben-Trabach Germany.

A howl of anguish reverberated through the Mosel Valley when the van door slid open and the European race teams realized that A-Team regulars Rachel Warnock and Valerie Lighthart had not made the trip this year. After many of the foreign clubs packed up their trailers and headed back home, choosing not to compete in the absence of the two A-Team regulars, the remaining 12 drivers which decided to stay headed for the registration tent to take care of all the necessary paperwork and to prepare for Fridays grueling pre-race scrutineering process.

The team was well received by race organizers Roland and Bernd Ölschmike who could not have been any a more helpful to the Americans having already unpacked the teams container and safely stored the trailer in a locked garage for safekeeping until Fridays set-up day.

On Friday the team assembled in the pit area and after replacing their climbers hooks with more appropriate hardware, attaching springs to their turn fins, adding beach balls under the decks for floatation and taping shim sticks across the thumb screws which hold the engine on the hull, the two American entries were finally deemed fit for UIM competition.
Saturday morning dawned cloudy and warm with a fresh breeze blowing down The Mosel Valley as the twelve entries readied for the 11:30am one hour open practice session. After spending 5 weeks in the shipping container the American boats seemed no worse for wear and were handling well on the short narrow course. Pit men Jimmy Cumming and Bob “Crowbar” Cronin were handling the roping and jetty duties for #8 Akerstrom and another helpful German, Alex Graeff of Team 33, assisted Dudley Smith and volunteered to handle the starting rope for the #16 of Allen.

After the 2pm time trials had ended it was the class of the field once again emerging to the top with last year’s silver medalist Cezary Strumnik from Poland gaining the pole position when he toured the circuit at 51.97 seconds followed by 2016 Gold Medalist Rasmus Haugasmagi from the boat racing powerhouse of Estonia turning in a 52.67. The two top guns were followed by American Billy Allen who turned in a 53.13, England’s James Marr with a 53.30 and the crazed Slovakian, previous World Champion Miroslav Bazinski , with a one lap time of 53.65. The top five qualifiers were followed by Poland’s Grezegorz Stepniak, 55.23, American Mike Akerstrom, 55.53, England’s Wayne Morse, 55.66, Germany’s Philipp Franz, 56.44, Latvia’s Viesturs Lacis, 56.46, Sweden’s Lärs Dickfors, 56.61 and rounding out the field was Germany’s Jörg Gleinert with a time of 58.69. It was then back to the tents for set-up adjustment, prop changes and readying the boats for heat one of the world finals.

At the onset of heat one it was a surprise to no one when defending champion Haugasmagi once again shot to the front followed by Strumnik. The battle raged for third as Allen passed Bazinski and Mrr in turn one and spent the rest of the heat trying his best to hold off the hard charging Bazinski who seemed to have top speed on the American but not quite enough to make the pass. When the checkered flag flew it was the speedy Estonian Hagausmagi with another heat win followed by Strumnik with Allen barely beating Bazinski to the line. England’s Marr rounded out the top five with Stepniak sixth and American Akerstrom finishing seventh.

Back to the tents once again went the respective teams as they prepared for heat two and the last heat of the long Saturday of racing. Heats three and four were to be run on Sunday. 
Heat two saw a more competitive contest when Strumnik came up the inside of Haugasmagi on lap two and was sawed off at the one pin turn putting the Polish driver momentarily out of shape. Bazinski made the pass to second while Strumnik did an impressive job of driving as he steadied his hull and somehow kept from tipping over. Now it was Strumnik’s turn to try to catch the Slovakian and after a fierce two laps of deck to deck racing Strumnik was finally able to re-gain the second spot with Bazinski finishing third and Allen in fourth.

Sundays heats three and four are shaping up to be ultra-competitive as all of the top teams were seen making set-up changes or engine adjustments looking for that little bit of extra speed to try to move up a position or two.

The U.S. A-Team would like to give a huge shout-out to the German race organizers who have so far hosted a world class contest as well as their shipper, Stephen Bruning of Bruning Worlwide, for getting their container to the race venue without a hitch.

Stay tuned for a full report on Sunday’s heats three and four.

Unity Flagstaff Reporting

Photo credit David Recht: Cranking It –
Mike Akerstrom of US A-Team cranking it around the buoy

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