14 Jun 2010
The 12th and 13th June saw Shelley and Team Spirit of Belgium Fly to Valetta, Malta for Rounds 3 & 4 of the Powerboat GPS World Championship. The teams were greeted by scorching temperatures with strong breezes providing perfect conditions for powerboat racing.
Fridays Powerpole qualifying session was held on a beautiful evening with Valetta harbour creating the perfect back drop for racers and spectators alike. Both the Evolution and the Supersport classes took to the water producing fast times which would lay the path for some fantastic racing. With the session over, Shelley and Throttleman Patrick Huybreghts (Belgium) received the results in front of 20 delegates from Shelley’s Sponsors Rotary Watches who had joined the team for the weekend to catch the action; the team were in second position for Saturdays sprint race.
Saturday’s race saw Shelley faced by favourable conditions with clear skies and rolling swells that would suit the boat and her team. As the green flag dropped for the sprint race the team were confident that they could improve on their results in Yalta last month and so the race was on.
Spirit of Belgium got an awesome start reaching the first turn mark in the lead with the rest of the fleet hot in their wake. The Italian Father and Son team Kareplui found that extra speed in the corner and took Spirit of Belgium.
Shelley and Patrick held their own as Kareplui seemed to edge away from them, the Ukrainian team Seagull Chaudron fought to catch them. They held their positions for the rest of the race and secured the silver medal position.
“Today’s conditions were pretty typical for Malta gorgeous sunshine and choppy swells making racing really interesting.” Comments pilot Shelley
“We got a fantastic start but Kareplui had the boat balanced perfectly they had that extra speed that we lacked and after the fifth lap we closed a little distance on them but the main task was keeping the Ukrainian boys at bay and securing second place. We’re now sitting 3 points behind the Championship leaders but Kareplui had a fantastic result and are now just points behind us so tomorrow we need to really focus and keeping them both at bay.”
Sunday’s race day saw the team faced with similar conditions to Saturday so they opted to move the ballast in the boat to try and obtain that extra speed they were missing on the previous day. Thousands lined Valetta seafront taking time out of their working day and holidays to watch the final race of the Malta Grand Prix of the Sea.
As the race got underway Baia the Championship leaders got the best start but Spirit of Belgium was fighting strong. A podium place today would see Shelley and Patrick take the Weekend title of Supersport Malta Grand Prix of the Sea winners. So Baia took the lead and Spirit of Belgium strong in second were hounded by Team 26 and Seagull Chaudron by laps 5 & 6 of the 16 lap race Spirit of Belgium had closed the gap on Baia and had pulled away from Seagull Chaudron but still had Team 26 fighting with them in third. Then disaster struck for the team on lap 9 fighting hard to keep Team 26 at bay the boat hooked and saw Throttleman Patrick catapulted over Shelley and into the water. Assistance was quickly on the scene and both Shelley and Patrick were taken to hospital to be checked over.
On her release from hospital later that evening Shelley commented “It all happened so quickly it’s a bit of a blur, all I know is we hooked for some reason and Patrick was catapulted into me and out of the boat. I immediately radioed for assistance as he was in the water and Metamarine and Seagull Chaudron were passing by his head very closely!”
“I’ve seen the footage from the onboard cameras and whilst we’re still unsure as to why it happened, one things for sure we’re both lucky we are only battered and bruised.”