As the green flag flew and the boats, complete with rooster tails, blasted into the distance, a new dawn signalled for international endurance racing and a new day for the crews the waiting was over and a world championship title was at stake.
By the end of the first ever race in the newly formed UIM-OGP World Endurance Championship, Furnibo from Belgium, piloted by Pierre Colpin and Frank Hemelaar had taken the spoils and set the standards for the campaign ahead.
It was the Germans, Douglas Verbanck and Sigi Greve, in Hercules Sagemann that showed the early pace, gaining traction off the start with Lucas Oil, the Swedish-American challenger tucking in behind. It wasn’t long though before oil pressure issues hampered the Searex boat allowing Lucus Oil and Furnibo to pass.
The two boats fought a hard battle with Lucas Oil showing the early pace and leading for four laps. It was an impressive performance by the Silverhook, a newly built craft that had not entered the water in anger until this weekend. The race remained in the balance until the closing stages.
The British contenders, Drew Langdon and Miles Jennings in Silverline were content to take third place in the Evo class, passing the German boat mid-race and consolidating the position.
This was the weekend’s shorter sprint race over a distance of 47-miles but high temperatures and heavy seas combined to make for an exhausting ride. With cockpit temperatures reaching 40 degrees centigrade, several pilots suffered. None more so than Frank Hemelaar who collapsed on reaching land, what should have been a victory celebration turning into a dramatic few minutes on the side of the pontoon. He recovered shortly afterwards and will be fit to race tomorrow.
In Supersport, Antonio and Giuseppe Schiano di Cola and Francesco Calo in Karelpiu won the race in commanding fashion. The Neapolitan team RG87, racing a Mercury-powered Fountain, had started from pole and dominated proceedings from the first lap. Even the guile of the experienced Renato Guidi, Stefano Acanfora and Vittorio Foglia Manzillo, piloting SIF could do nothing to reel in the lead boat. They finished in second with Jolly Drive a distant third.
Today there will be the 74-mile endurance race, the closing leg of the UIM Malta Ocean Grand Prix.