It's Thanksgiving Day, and I have not posted since after Seafair. Just when you think life will slow down a little, the hammer drops. Oh well. We are back from Doha, and a 22 hour plane ride gives you plenty of time to reflect.
Chip Hanauer always talks about how boat racing is full of the highest highs, and the lowest lows. Well, that pretty much sums up Doha. We qualified in the middle of the pack because we ran early in the day, when the water was rough. The other teams went back out to bump their times while the Red Dot guys were busy fixing a problem with the cockpit (namely, it would not open after a run.) So, while Doha Bay looked like a mill pond, we watched Hysol dry. That's OK, we knew what we had, and we showed it during the first heat. We drew lane one and drove away from the field, posting the fastest laps and fastest heat of the first day. Unfortunately, the turbine banged and complained during the second heat, and the bottom escape hatch blew in later in the heat, followed by the lid sticking shut again. Heat two was a bummer. We worked late fixing stuff, and Troy got the engine fixed in time for Saturday.
Heat 3 was a fast one, with Steve David outside of us. The U-17 was ROLLING, and the Oberto could not drive around us. I know that opened several eyes in the pits, and I was feeling bulletproof when Mona handed me the second heat victory trophy of the weekend. That feeling was short lived, however, as following the ceremony, I handed the trophy to Steve David, because I jumped the gun by 1/60 of a second (10 feet at 150 mph.) Long story short, we needed a good finish in heat four. The 88 was inside, we were in two, and the Oberto was in three. It was a fast start and we were three wide going into to first turn. We inched out into the lead and had Oberto covered by the second lap, and had three or four boat lengths on the 88. The heat was in the bag, as far as I was concerned. A rough turn in turn two resulted in a feeling in the steering like the transom was coming apart (bad wheel shake.) I bailed out of the throttle and jumped out of the cockpit, which thankfully opened (thanks, Nate). I ran to the back of the boat, expecting carnage, and saw...NOTHING WRONG. I guess it was rudder flutter, which I have never experienced before, and certainly did not expect at a lower speed course like Doha. That was it for us- not enough points for the final.
So the season is over. We came into the season with nobody looking at us to do anything. We started off the year with five straight heat race victories, and two podiums in the first three races. Two second place finishes (at Madison and San Diego) were our best of the year, and best ever for the team. We were easily one of the fastest boats in Doha, and I know for a fact that our team earned the respect it deserves this year. Our Red Dot/ Silver Cloud team has proven to be a force to be reckoned with, and we are no longer a team that the others want to race against. Our crew is absolutely top-notch, and have worked tirelessly throughout the season in our pursuit of greatness. The support of Red Dot Corporation and Silver Cloud Inns, as well as all of our other sponsors, has allowed us to excel this season, and we could not have reached these heights without your continued support. I feel so blessed to have been a part of this great team, and feel fortunate that our "coming out" year happened to be during the inaugural Air National Guard sponsorship for the H1 series, which allowed our great sponsors to get the coverage they deserve on national television.
We have a team party coming up in a couple weeks at Silver Cloud, and I already miss our crew. I can't wait to get everyone together for one more bash to celebrate the season- The Our Gang Bang!