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A Return to Chodziez, the 2014 World Championships

Updated: Apr 2, 2019

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American drivers Todd Anderson (11) and Mike Akerstrom (86) during heat 1 of the World Championships

The U.S. A-Team landed in Europe engulfed in the usual quagmire of international shipping problems which have plagued them so much in the past. Team Captain Billy Allen once again had to jump through hoops when his well thought out plan to get the team’s boats and equipment to the World Championships in Chodziez, Poland fell to pieces. Their container, which was originally designated to land at the Polish port of Gdansk had to instead be offloaded in Bremerhaven Germany because the unusually rough ocean conditions prevented it from making the transfer to Gdansk.

       After leaving Boston at 8pm Monday night and landing in Gdansk at 2pm on Tuesday , the team, which consisted of 3 drivers, Allen, Mike Akerstrom from Westford, Massachusetts and Todd Anderson from Northlake, Illinois, Crew Chief Jeff Main from Elliot, Maine, Jetty Captain Jimmy Cummings from Westford, Massachusetts, Mechanic Racer Allen from Baily Island, Maine, Videographer Valerie Lighthart from Germantown, Wisconsin, Photographer David Recht from Palo Alto, California, and Executive Administrator Rachel Warnock from Pewaukee, Wisconsin all boarded a bus for the four hour ride to the race venue, the picturesque Polish town of Chodziez.  Arriving at 7pm, Allen quickly hired a van equipped with a trailer hitch. He then turned right around and left at midnight for the eight hour trip to Bremerhaven. After spending Wednesday morning handling paperwork, Allen and his Polish speaking driver Tomec finally found the trailer in a holding warehouse. The eight hour return trip to Chodziez ended at 8pm on Wednesday and, after being awake for nearly seventy hours, the worn out team Captain was finally able to lay in a bed at the Hotel Nestor and get some sleep.

    On Thursday morning the team got to work assembling engines, placing decals on boats and attending to their final preparations.     

On Friday the team set up their pit area and went through the registration and scruteneering process. When registration closed it was announced that twenty eight OSY-400 Hydroplanes from twelve different countries were registered to compete for the World Championship. As in the past, the American team had travelled the farthest to race. Eighteen boats would qualify to run in the four heat feature final.                                                                                                                                                                             

At Saturday morning’s drivers meeting the elimination heats were announced with American drivers Mike Akersrtom in #86  and Todd Anderson in #11 slated for heat one and Billy Allen from Quincy, Massachusetts in heat two. Each heat would have fourteen boats.

When the checkered flag flew ending elimination heat number one defending Gold Medalist Rasmus Haugasmagi from Estonia took first place with countryman Algo Kuus in second.  The two Americans, Anderson and Akerstrom finished third and fourth respectively guaranteeing the American twosome a place in the final. In heat two local racing hero Cezary Srumnik and America’s Billy Allen ran deck to deck for lap one before Strumnik stretched out a lead for the win and the fastest qualifying time of the weekend. This secured Strumnik the coveted pole position for heat one of the final. Allen finishing in the second spot placing all three Americans into the four heat feature final. When the times were posted, Allen was to line up in the fourth spot on the jetty with Anderson in seventh and Akerstrom ninth, three Americans in the top ten! 

    Team Captain Allen was quick to credit Crew Chief Jeff Main and Jetty Captain Jimmy Cummings for getting the American boats off the jetty and down to turn one right up there with the leaders. “They were flawless” stated the delighted Allen, “we practiced at home but this was the first time they had to operate against the best jetty teams in the world under the pressure of world championship competition. They were both outstanding.” Although placing three boats in the final was a fantastic event for the Americans, it did impose a problem, The Americans simply didn’t have enough help on the jetty! As it was two years earlier in Kriebstein, it was once again Germany’s Team 33 to the rescue. With Jeff Main pulling for Allen and Jimmy Cummings pulling for Akerstrom, Todd Anderson was placed into the capable hands of Christian and Jonas for the all-important launching duties.

    At four o’clock it was time for heat one of the finals. The red light expired, the ropers pulled with all their might and eighteen OSY-400s sprang to life as one! Polish pilot Cezary Strumnik, driving from the pole position, brought the grandstands to their feet when he rocketed to the front of the pack and lead the field around the circuit for the first two laps. Estonia’s Haugasmagi hung on his hip till he gained enough to give Srumnik the squeeze coming out of the corner on lap three and take the lead. Strumnik fought back on the next straightaway but it was not to be Strumnik’s day as his engine went down on lap four. At the end of the five lap heat Hagusmagi nailed down the win with the crazed Slovakian Miroslav Bazinski taking second and Algo Kuss with a the third. Professional stage comic Luke Hugman from The United Kingdom finished fourth and America’s Billy Allen rounded out the top five. Americans Todd Anderson and Mike Akerstrom finished tenth and fourteenth respectively. 

In heat two of the final it was once again the speedy Estonian Rasmus Haugasmagi leading wire to wire for the heat win followed by countryman Algo Kuus in second and Bazinski in a close third, fourth went to Strumnik who showcased his obvious speed as he battled from the eighteenth spot on the jetty to claim fourth with Allen again fifth.

A bad accident in heat three unfortunately sent Estonian pilot Raivo Peetsman to the hospital with serious injuries. Out of respect for the driver and his team, the International Jury decided to score the race as run after two heats. The winner was declared to be Estonian Rasmus Haugasmagi followed by perpetual frontrunner Miroslav Bazinski claiming the silver and Algo Kuus taking home the Bronze.  America’s Billy Allen ended up in the fourth place spot followed by England’s Luke Hugman in fifth and local driver Cezary Strumnik taking home sixth.

American Todd Anderson finished in the seventh with Mike Akerstrom in fourteenth.  

Unity Flagstaff Reporting

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