Thunderboat duel fizzles out
Batswater Bulk Boating by Ted Madden
A SPLIT-SECOND miscalculation cost the Australian-built thunderboat, Bayswater Bulk (above) all chance of winning the E. C. Griffith Cup on Lake Eppalock last Sunday.

Nervous and toey, driver Stan Jones broke at the start of the first heat.

This let Bobby Saniga win his sixth successive Griffith Cup in the imported hydroplane Miss Bud, after being soundly defeated in two heats which he did not even try to win.

The E. C. Griffith Cup is the Australasian Unlimited Open Speedboat Championship, with a history dating from 1910. It is the greatest race any Australian or New Zealand boat can win.

The duel between the two huge aircraft-engined hydroplanes, Miss Bud and Bayswater Bulk, has been the highlight of the season, and was expected to reach a climax in the Griffith Cup.
They had met in five races, Miss Bud winning two and Bayswater Bulk three. But each time the defeated boat had suffered engine trouble.

Speedboat fans were eagerly awaiting a race in which both V-12 Rolls-Royce aircraft engines performed at their best for the full distance.

It happened in the Griffith Cup, but the race was a farce.

Realising that Jones had broken at the start of the first heat, and must be disqualified, Saniga merely parked Miss Bud in behind, being content to beat the Broken Hill tunnel-hull Desert Rat for second place.

Fourth was the little hydroplane Goldline, from NSW. The two other starters, the runabout Tabasco and a third big aircraft-engined hydroplane, Hydromania - which has not really fired yet - broke down.

Bayswater Bulk went on to a most impressive win, but was disqualified. Jones' bitter determination to demonstrate the superiority of his boat robbed the second heat of interest.
He sent Bayswater Bulk scorching to the front - nearly breaking again at the start - with the object of lapping Miss Bud.

Saniga decided it was folly to chase him; if Miss Bud broke down, Desert Rat would win the cup. And the coveted trophy, together with the right to stage next year's race, would go to Broken Hill.

Have to wait

So the question of which is the faster boat will have to await their next meeting, in the Hazelwood Classic.

Bob Saniga announced his retirement after this race, having set a record that will probably never be equalled. He has won 10 Griffith Cups - six on his own and four as co-driver with Stan Jones.

Miss Bud will be driven by young Peter Janssen, who has been racing a little Formula Ford hydroplane. It's a mighty leap from a tiny Formula Ford to an aircraft-engined hydroplane, but Peter has driven Miss Bud in a number of practice runs and owner Ron Burton is confident he can handle the job.

Madden, T. 1981, 'Thunder boat duel fizzles out,' Sunday Press, 1st, Feb.

Article donation by Glenn Cox