We are World Champions!!
AGRISELL - NOT THE AVERAGE SPONSOR
The 2017 Inflatable World Champs was held in Cape Town, South Africa this year. Being an U.I.M. sanctioned event, this was a big privilege and prestigious affair for South African racers and sponsors. Various countries took part i.e. U.S.A, Russia, Germany, China, Sweden, Great Britain, etc. with 62 boats entering in this prestigious event.
The race was held from the 1 – 11th of March and consisted of 3 disciplines. These disciplines were: Surf racing, Long Haul (Long Distance open ocean event) and Circuit Racing.
AGRISELL’s Racing Team was represented in both the Modified and Pro-Stock Classes. The fastest class being the modified-class boats.
The surf racing was first up, it was hosted over 2 days at Blaauwberg. Challenging conditions with large waves and strong winds tested all racers to the maximum. In the Pro-Stock class AGRISELL was represented by Chris Vosloo and Gerhard Swiegers who represented the S.A.I.R.A (South African Inflatable Racing Association) team, they managed a 6th, 2 x 4th and 5th place in their respective heats, missing out on the final with one point. “Conditions was challenging, the biggest challenge was going as fast as possible, without capsizing the boat! We however enjoyed it tremendously and as teamed improved a lot!” feedback from Chris.
Heading up the Modified Team, Johan Lodewyks, pilot, and his co-pilot Flippie Schoeman who represented the National Protea`s team in the green and gold were proudly in charge of the M1 AGRISELL boat. Being the current National Modified class champions, they displayed in good fashion exactly why they carry the sought after M1 plate. Having a flawless run in the surf discipline, they finished 1st in both their respected heats and the final. They proved that experience count most when racing conditions are testing.
Johan commented: “Conditions in the Surf circuit tested us as team in a big way. Also the fact that the top boats are closely matched made decisions in terms of racing and setup crucial, but also resulted in exciting racing! Fortunately for us the decisions we made in terms of setup and racing played out in our favour!”
Next up it was the Long Haul, this is an open ocean race which usually varies anything from 120km to 200km’s. For the World Championship the course was laid out in the Table Bay area. Starting at Blaauwberg Beach, the course would take racers to the Historic Robben Island, from there to Milnerton Light House and back to Blaauwberg. Approximately 30km per lap, racers needed to complete 5 without any outside assistance.
Met with strong winds and gusts the morning of the Long Haul, it made for interesting decisions. From the setup of the boat (trim and tilt) to choosing the correct propeller. There is a whole range of propellers that racers use: cleavers, semi cleavers, bunnies, etc. Each has their own unique properties, the smaller the pitch of the propeller the bigger the bite and vice versa. So a smaller pitch propeller results in lower top speeds, but better average for rougher conditions. Big pitch propellers again has good top speed, but not the constant drive through rough waters.
In the Modified class, M1 had a good start and race until a broken fuel line resulted in loss of precious time, having them finish in 4th position. In the Pro-Stock Class Chris selected a small pitch prop, due to weather not looking good, this did not play out in his favour, seeing that it became a beautiful day with no wind and flat sea, he finished 17th out of the 42 boats in his racing class.
Moving on, to the final 2 days of flat water circuit racing at the picturesque Oceana Powerboat yacht Club, situated at the Waterfront, Cape Town.
This discipline is where the inland racers and international competitors from Sweden, Norway, etc. really excel. Top Speed and acceleration is what counts in this discipline, seeing that there are no waves or rough water.
Chris and Gerhard in the Pro Stock class did their best but fell out after being disqualified, which were later on reversed by officials after seeing video footage, unfortunately it was too late to move onto the final. “After the Trans Agulhas, which is the toughest inflatable boat race in the world, our biggest dream was to compete in the World Champs. We are honoured to have represented Agrisell, Leatt Protectives and SAIRA in this prestigious event. We especially want to thank Jannie Fourie, for not only being our sponsor, but also being part of the team! Without AGRISELL’s support this dream would never have realized!”
AGRISELL`s road to success was not plain sailing.
Johan and Flippie were laying in second position overall in the modified class with the start of the final discipline and the nail biting continued! Finishing in a comfortable 1st position in the first heat, everything looked good. Then disaster struck in the second heat as they flipped their boat after being hit by another racer! Inflatable boat racing is after all a contact sport, being physically and mentally demanding to an extent not a lot of people can comprehend! After reviewing the accident, officials decided to “rerun” the heat, due to some of the other competitors not sticking to starting order rules.
Johan and Flippie jumped right back at it, winning the “rerun” of the second heat in style. The final was next, trailing behind the leaders with one point. Here the depth of their experience and hard work came to play, showing why they really are champions. The boat was equipped and powered by a modified 50Hp Yamaha built by Marius Lodewyks of Easi Marine with engineering done by Tim Basson of TBR racing.
Winning the final on their branded AGRISELL Gemini FF-15, they were crowned the new P750 Modified World Champs! A victory for AGRISELL and South Africa!
“Winning the World Championship is a one in a lifetime opportunity! We are very thankful for the support of Jannie Fourie and Agrisell.”
AGRISELL’s racing team will continue with the rest of the National and Regional Championships of which the next round will be at Langebaan the 6 and 7th of May 2017, come and join us for spectacular racing!
Author Chris Vosloo