Mixups and Malfunctions
the Grifflths Cup winner, the aircraft-engined hydroplane ‘VS 41’,
not contesting the race, the Eppalock Gold Cup on Derrinal Pool last Sunday
turned into a battle between Griffiths Cup disappointments. As races go,
it was a beaut.
It ended in something like a three-way split. ‘Pitstop’ (Don Preece) was pronounced winner; many good judges were of the opinion that ‘Vulture’ (John Lewis) should have been awarded the prize; others maintain that ‘Exciter’ (Tommy Watts) won a moral victory, anyway.
The Cup was decided on aggregate points on two heats — no final. It was not an APBA championship, so the club did not have to follow all the small print in the rule book. As a result, the arguments are still going on, and they are unlikely to stop.
When the flag fell for the start of the first heat, the three hydros shot out of the field like rats out of a drain-pipe. Wattsie moved fastest with the mostest — although there was not much in it —and when they came out of the first turn he was leading ‘Vulture’ and ‘Pitstop’, in pretty close order. The displacement boats were beginning to drop back already.
Before a lap was over, ‘Pitstop’s’ motor began baulking, and the sleek black hydro fell steadily behind, to be caught and passed by the big Gippsland runabout ‘Tiger’ and little ‘Klute’, who were having a ding-donger of their own.
Out in front, it was ‘Exciter’ showing a clean pair of heels to ‘Vulture’, and it looked a case of how far. But, just when the old jetman from Wllliamstown was happily engaged in counting his chickens before they hatched, the Bendigo runabout ‘Courage’ (Kevin Alcock) went for a Burton, and red flags sprouted all over the place.
It was a very complete prang; the whole side was torn out of the boat, and Kevin sailed some distance into the air.
He was shipped off to Bendigo base hospital, and the word that filtered back to Derrinal Pool was that he seemed right enough, but they were X-raying his legs, just in case.
Meanwhile, the Gold Cup contestants were hustled off the lake, with Wattsie making a few judicious comments about the goings-on that could be beard as far away as Manangatang.
What happened to him in the re-run first heat shouldn’t have happened to a dog; but it did happen to Watts, and he only had himself to blame. He was so occupied fiddling with this and that, in what was a very long interval, that he clean forgot he had intended to recharge ‘Exciter’s’ battery.
Result: He went out on the water, pressed the button, and it was a case of no systems go. So the field got away without ‘Exciter’.
The stewards should have called for a swab. The ‘Pitstop’ crew had really stung the big hemi-Chrysler, and the costly re-build of the old champion.
‘Assassin’ came flying down the straight with all the speed that she hadn’t shown since her speed record attempts last year.
Preece won the dice to the buoy and set the race pattern, leading ‘Vulture’ narrowly, but quite decisively, all the way.
A long way back, ‘Tiger’ and ‘Klute’ had their private duel for third place, with Goliath having just a bit much muscle for David at the finish.
There was more than one raised eyebrow when ‘Exciter’ came out to start in the second heat; not only had she not finished the first heat, it could be (and was) maintained that she did not even start in it.
John Lewis figured that Wattsie was being given a run just to please the crowd; be didn’t think there was any way known he could earn points. So all he worried about was finishing ahead of ‘Pitstop’.
As it turned out, that wasn’t hard; the 427 hemi-Chrysler began spewing oil and methanol. Preece got a mouthful, both eyes full; his life jacket was soaked with it, and the steering wheel was so greasy that all he could do was hang on to the spokes.
All he could see (vaguely) were two big shadowy rooster tails ahead, and all he could do was try to follow them. He couldn’t read the water and he couldn’t see the buoys; on each turn he slowed to as close to a dead stop as a hydro can get without actually dropping off the plane.
So Wattsie was tooling along in front, screwing round in his seat every now and then to see where ‘Vulture’ was, and John Lewis was having a Sunday drive, with ‘Pitstop’ not near enough to worry him.
“I didn’t even try to catch Wattsie,” said the chagrined Lewis afterwards.
“I could have caught him easily enough; although I didn’t know if I could have passed him, he had the sit on me.”
At any rate, that’s how they went all the way, and that’s how they finished, with ‘Tiger’, her cav plate tucked down to business between heats, making no bones about little ‘Klute’s’ challenge this time.
But ‘Exciter’ was credited with the win, and the results were ‘Pitstop’, ‘Vulture’, ‘Tiger’ in the first heat, and ‘Exciter’, ‘Vulture’, ‘Pitstop’ in the second. A first and a third beats two seconds. The overall result was ‘Pitstop’, ‘Vulture’, ‘Exciter’.
If Watts had not been allowed to earn points, it would have been a first and a second each for ‘Vulture’ and ‘Pitstop’, and ‘Vulture’ would have won on elapsed time.
Don Preece somehow got ‘Pitstop’ back to the ramp, was lifted out by the ambulance team, and given immediate treatment for his eyes. No damage.
If the arguments about this decision axe unlikely to be settled, the battle between the three big hydros is on again in a fortnight’s time, when they are due to contest the Kimbolton Cup, again in ‘VS 4 l’s’ absence.
After the way all three performed last Sunday, it would be a brave man who would be prepared to tip the winner.
Scratch: 1, Nitro (C. Mogford); 2,Frantic Too (Tom Barnes); 3,
Lotus Bo-Weevil (Rud Lindley).