11 May 2010
A little over month a go Britain’s leading female power boat racer Shelley Jory-Leigh; was left asking herself whether her 2010 dreams of a World Championship title were a possibility or a dream shattered before the season even started as the race promoters pulled out leaving the Powerboat P1 teams without a championship to compete in.
Now having just finished the first Grand prix of the 2010 season Shelley has a twinkle in her eye and the determination to succeed despite it seeming that all the odds were against her. “To say I was unenthusiastic for my first race in a new boat, new team and new season was an understatement. The last few months have been so discouraging and hard work that the easiest option would have been to pull out and take the year off I have been promising myself for the past 14 years. But I pushed myself as always like many of my other racing colleagues, race officials and organisers and we pulled off one of the best powerboating events the sport has ever seen with no main promoter on board! Yalta in the Ukraine was an excellent venue for a powerboat race topped with an excellent opening and closing ceremony and 20,000 adoring public” comments Shelley.
The ever determined female pilot didn’t let recent events or a lack of practice time with new throttleman Patrick Huybreghts(Bel) hold her back as they took their brand new Nortech Boat into 2nd place in the pole position race providing them with a great position on the start line up for the Saturday’s main event. The weather was calm and the boat was handling well for the first time out, and things were looking good.Saturday saw an unexpected change in the weather, gale force gusts of winds swept across the marina and Black Sea, stopping practise and making launching of boats near impossible. A short practise session was possible and the team realised that in the rough sea conditions and the strong swell of the Black Sea a lot more ballast and weight in the bow of the boat was needed. The team worked hard to rectify the situation and they were back in the running.
The race was hard and fast. A big swell and lots of airborne moments, but the boat handled brilliantly and the 2600hp Mercury Supercharged engines did not miss a beat. The Raymarine GPS completely broke away from its fixing on the dash but still carried on working – amazing. A bad start saw Spirit of Belguim in 6th place and completely drenched by other boats spray which should have provided intercom problems but the new DS Development Neptune system was unbreakable and helped them take a podium position in 3rd place in their first ever race together – A brilliant start that saw the team elated.
Sunday saw the return of the calm weather much to everyone’s joy, and with a much better start we were running in 4th place, Shelley and Patrick very quickly pulled themselves into 2nd place, and began the battle for first but with no communications due to human error they were faced with a real test of team work. Spirit of Belgium #17 hounded Team Bahia #38 for 9 laps but just could not get past their expert racing leaving them to take the gold for the week-end and Spirit of Belgium #17 taking the silver medal for the Ukraine Grand Prix of the Sea and putting them in a strong championship position for the next round in Malta in June.
Shelley would like to thank her new team Spirit of Belgium#17 and sponsors Rotary Watches for such a great week-end and a brilliant start to the new World Championship season. “Doing well in Powerboat racing is always a team effort, whether it’s sponsors, pit crew or the individuals in the boat actually racing , to do well and succeed you all have to be on board.” Comments Shelley “ Spirit of Belgium is a fantastic team who are all working hard to achieve the best and our sponsor Scapa Clothing and Rotary Watches are behind us 100% and it shows and helps boost the teams confidence when racing. I’m looking forward to the rest of the season and seeing what our determination can achieve.”