Zero Defect wins powerboat race of attrition Boat takes division at Chesapeake Challenge


July 29, 1996|By Peter Baker | Peter Baker,SUN STAFF

STEVENSVILLE -- The final day of the Chesapeake Challenge drew entries from 23 teams in four hot racing classes yesterday, and by the end of competition, nearly half the field had failed to complete their laps on an eight-mile course off Kent Island on Chesapeake Bay.

"That is pretty typical for this kind of racing, when you have boats with engines like these, which are running on the edge," said Jack Carmody of Austin, Texas, whose Spirit of Texas team had two boats entered in the Open Class and a third in the Modified Division.

"These can be races of attrition, and 50 percent of the boats not finishing is average, so you have to be well set up at the outset and prepared for the long run."

Carmody, with Art Lilly of Annapolis as his throttle man, drove the brand-new, 46-foot Skater design Spirit of Texas to a second-place finish in the Open Class, averaging 106.17 mph over 104 miles and hitting speeds over 130 mph on the back straightaway.

Zero Defect, another Skater design driven by Laith Pharaon of Theodore, Ala., finished first in the Open Class, eight seconds ahead of Carmody.

Pharaon said the difference was a European-style, three-speed transmission in his boat, which allowed higher speeds and better control through the turns.

"Having that transmission lets you drive the boat through the turns rather than floating through, and it keeps the rpms up, which means that you also can gain some ground coming out of the turns," Pharaon said.

The victory by Zero Defect was its sixth in a row and means the team must win only one of the last three races of the season to clinch the American Power Boat Association national class championship.

Three of eight boats failed to complete the 13-lap course in the Open Class, including racing legend Reggie Fountain of Washington, N.C., whose 3,000-horsepower Ohio Steel had mechanical problems during the parade lap and withdrew before the start of racing.

The Chesapeake Challenge, which raced Saturday and yesterday, was sanctioned by the APBA and sponsored by the Chesapeake Bay Power Boat Association and the Bay Bridge Marina.

On both days the spectator fleet numbered more than 1,000 boats and shoreside crowds gathered at the marina and Matapeake State Park. Competitors said the spectator fleet was the largest of their season so far.

Hot N Nasty, a 35-foot Activiacon out of Port Washington, N.Y., won the Modified Class despite spirited competition from the Spirit of Texas team's class entry through nine of 10 laps.

"We had to withdraw on the ninth lap with fuel problems," said Spirit of Texas throttle man Curt Harber of Seabrook, Texas. "We ran out of it."

In preparing for yesterday's 10-lap, 80-mile Modified race, Harber said, the crew tried to carry only enough fuel to get it through the race, keeping the boat as light as possible.

"A lot of fuel slows you down a little," Harber said after the race. "But none slows you down to a stop. We learned a hard lesson today."

Notorious, a 35-foot Motion design owned by Ford Racing of Plantation, Fla., won the Pro-Outboard Class.

Pepsi Racing of Miami won the Offshore D Class.

(Results, 12C)

Pub Date: 7/29/96

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