2011, A Year in Review
In 2011 the U.S. A-Team acquired two new members. The addition of Chief Technical Officer Bob Cronin from Candia, New Hampshire has been great asset. Bob, a former inboard racer and current outboarder, is a certified airplane mechanic and former boat builder who brings a wealth of technical expertise and woodcrafting talent to the team. In addition, having eighteen year old Johnny Wlodarski as crew chief, brings a young, fresh outlook along with a wealth of knowledge supported by his nearly ten year APBA racing career. This was Johnny’s first trip out of the U.S.and he certainly made the most of this experience by making friends from all over the world and by nearly being adopted by the Polish team. He has written an article for Propeller Magazine and it is featured in the “Team Publications” page. Johnny, Tony Lombardo and Rachel Warnock, both 23, incorporate into the program our intense desire to give young APBA drivers the opportunity to be a part of a team at the World Championships in Europe. This aspect of the team’s mission is promoted in order to enrich their lives and broaden their cultural views through the exiting UIM / European racing experience.
The race was both challenging and exiting for the Americans as they had to overcome many obstacles including the shipping container being delivered two days late, an engine with a faulty carburetor and one failed pull off the jetty. Allen did manage to qualify in a very respectable third place with an eventual overall sixth place finish. The other American, Tony Lombardo, was hampered with engine issues and ended up in fourteenth position out of the 22 qualifiers.
In Estonia, as in previous years, spectators, competitors and crews were amazed to see the American Flag flying in our pit area and were moved with a mixture of disbelief and admiration for us coming so far to compete in Estonia. Because the United States helped to liberate the Estonian Nation from Soviet control, the American Flag received even greater attention from spectators who saluted and cheered our team as they moved by.
The event was streamed live via web cam over the internet. America had more hits on the website and more watch time than any other country which was remarkable since this race was advertised on Estonian national television and on news stations.
At the closing ceremony, the U.S. A-Team was asked to step forward to the stage and be recognized for coming so far and enduring so much pressure to compete in this international event. In an emotional moment the American team, with Johnny Wlodarski as it’s proud flag bearer, was shocked and surprised as the awards tent thundered with a two minute long standing ovation as a show of respect for the effort that the Americans had put forth.
Upon their return to The States, team members were heartened to realize that they had created an increase in support and interest from fellow APBA racers. People were very interested, not only in how the team placed, but in all of the heat by heat details. The team had been posting results on the different racing web sites but people still wanted more details on the entire experience. The Team Captain and the Executive Administrator have already been approached on more than a few occasions by APBA J-Drivers asking if one day they too, could race in Europe at a World Championship.
In 2011 the team made some advancements to their boat designs which significantly helped to get off the jetty to a better start and also to handle the rougher water. We still need to work with propeller design and more testing is needed in order to continue to move forward on this, the most competitive level in the world.