Transportation from the Ukraine to Malta was via three ships but a little easier on the equipment. Malta is a venue we have been racing at for seven years and it is always good to return here with very helpful and friendly people. Malta usually produces rough water conditions for racing as a very long fetch can be achieved at this part of the Mediterranean Sea.
Having had a major engine failure in the Ukraine our engineers were dispatched to Malta one week early to remove the broken engine, re-fresh the spare engine and install. We always carry a spare engine for situations like this as the rig will remain overseas for most or all of the season. Our spare engine this year is one of our running engines from the second half of last years racing as two completely new engines were installed for this years racing. The re-fresh consisted of new piston rings, main bearings, big-end shells, head inspection, two new ignition modules and new gasket sets.
Our testing on the Friday went according to plan with light running to break in the re-fresh unit. All seemed to be going according to plan with very good boat balance and handling in the choppy waters around Malta.
The Power Pole consisted of a high speed run from the open sea right into the bottom of the estuary of Valetta, a spectacular setting and running very close to the shore for the spectators. On our test run on the course we had another ignition failure resulting in one of the new modules burning out so we were unable to complete the Pole run.
Hoping for better results on the Saturday we managed to trace all the electrical ignition problems to a faulty pin in the main engine harness which had split and was shorting out to another terminal, this also accounted for the overheated module in the Ukraine as the pin would intermittently short out when the sea was rough the engine harness shook about producing the electrical short.
On our way out to the start of the Saturday race we were encountering an intermittent fuel starvation problem with the port engine. We lined up for the start but were unable to maintain our speed and we were forced to retire. The fuel system was stripped down from the inlet manifold to the fuel tank and we discovered that part of the fuel tank inspection hatch gasket had fallen into the bottom of the fuel tank and was blocking the fuel pick up pipe. The boat was rigged with brand new fuel tanks only a few months ago and it seems that a non fuel resistant gasket was used which perished, broke down and dropped into the bottom of the tank. The boat left the Ukraine full of fuel so there were four weeks for this to take place, however it should not have mattered that fuel was in the tank for transporting so we now have a pending action against the tank manufacturer.
The Saturday race was won by Belgian Team ING Furnibo, 2nd Italian Team Mettamarine, 3rd Scandanavian/USA Team Lucas Oil.
We wished for better luck for the Sunday race. All prepared and raring to go we carried out testing on Sunday morning with some great results, however our testing session was cut short when the belts jumped off of the port engine so we returned to the pitts. This was an easy fix to replace the belts which were newly fitted before the Ukraine race, however one of the belts drives the oil pump and the seconds between noticing the warning light for low oil pressure and switching the engine off while doing over 100mph at 6,000 rpm could produce some damage to the main components running at a lower oil pressure than normal.
We had just enough time for a last minute test before the start of the Sunday race with replacement belts fitted, however the engine lasted about 10 seconds on full throttle at a reduced oil pressure before a piston failed. This signalled the end of our Malta Grand Prix.
The Sunday race was won by the Italinan team Mattamearine, 2nd German team Searex, 3rd Scandanavian/USA Team Lucas Oil.
Pictures by GrandPrixoftheSea.com - Karel Overlaet and