A personal View (This was sent to Fast On Water by Bill Owen 22.04.12).
After 33 years of involvement in Powerboat racing, I finally achieved my ultimate ambition in a boat which many people dismissed as heavy, uncompetitive and undriveable, which to some extent was true. However, it’s surprising what a bit of luck, reliability, and determination can achieve. The lead in the championship which was established at my home club of Carr Mill in May (my first outright formula 2 National win) was never relinquished for the rest of the season. Another win at Barrow, accompanied by a string of podium positions aided by my closest competitors breaking down or suffering accidents helped consolidate the lead.
All was nearly lost however when in a club race on the weekend prior to the final round of the National Championships I decided to have a race in my T850 monohull to save my Formula 2 for the main event. All was going well until I was struck by Pete Smith’s 100 mph ski boat and went for my first swim in 11 years. It didn’t help much when I surfaced to find myself looking down the tunnel of Paul Balfour’s formula 2 boat bearing down on me at great speed. Suffice to say that at that time I learned the real meaning of fear. Anyway, he missed me… just.
After a week of painkillers and mental torture, the final weekend dawned. All I had to do was finish one heat to clinch the Championship, but on the Saturday we were stood down due to bad weather and it was abandoned till the following day, so instead of celebrating or commiserating, on Saturday night I slept directly under the sword of Damocles.
Sunday morning dawned in the same fashion as Saturday, and at 9.30 the race was abandoned and I became champion without the final fight. My sigh of relief could be heard for miles around, but I shall never forget the good wishes of my closest friends of the best family in the world who showered me with Champagne.
The war was won, but the battles were not over as there were still club races to enjoy (or is that endure?) and I had yet to get back in the dreaded monohull which had unceremoniously dumped me into the murky waters of Carr Mill. The final Record Attempts week at Windermere was the place to do this, but try as I might, I could not beat last years speed, but at least I was the last person to do a record attempt in a circuit monohull on the lake I have loved, feared and sometimes loathed since my first acquaintance with it in 1971.
It is a quite unique experience to go down the measured kilometre, on a crisp October
Lakeland morning with every sight, sound and emotion amplified by the adrenalin in
your veins, with the lake belonging at that moment in time, to you alone. The urgency to get to the finish line is tempered only by the wish that somehow the moment could last forever.
And then; the part that none of us wanted; the end, celebrated in fitting fashion with a final run by Ted Walsh in his formula one, with the fells echoing to the howl of Miss Windermere on the shore whose engine was revved to the brink of extinction. Then at 2pm the ceremonial cannon was fired and it was all over.
The spirit of absent friends from years gone by returned momentarily, while the ones still present all went to seek a quiet corner to be lost in their thoughts.
Was it the end or is it a new beginning, who knows, but one thing can never be taken away from me……
I was there.