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  • Unity Flagstaff

The 2013 World Championships in Barcis, Italy

Updated: Apr 3, 2019

The 2013 U.S. A-Team line up

With two podium finishes in the last three years, The U.S. A-Team had high hopes going into the 2013 OSY-400 World Championships. Spring testing was reported to be hurried and frantic with Team Captain Billy Allen trying to squeeze in some runs in the short window between the New England ice melt and the April 28 shipping date.  U.S. Title Series ace Todd Anderson, who would be the second American driver, was even flown in from Chicago in early March for a one day shotgun test session to Camden North Carolina.  Adding to the excitement was the addition of many new faces on the team and the beautiful venue of Barcis (pronounced bar-cheese) Italy, a small picturesque village nestled high in The Dolomite Region of The Eastern Alps.     

    When the container housing their trailer arrived without the ability to be placed on ground level, the undaunted Americans off loaded the trailer by hand with the help of Race Organizer Luigi De Simone and some borrowed ramps. The trailer was then tucked snugly into the Americans pit stall.                                                                  

    In addition to the two drivers, this year’s crew consisted of Toronto, Canada’s Heather Knox who would be working the jetty and holding for #11 Anderson, with Richmond, Maine’s Alex Poliakoff Jr. handling the high pressure job of rope man. For Allen in the #16, it would be Buckeye Dudley Smith with the holding duties and Westford Massachusetts’ Mike Akerstrom with the roping responsibilities. Each driver is allowed only two mechanics on the starting jetty.  Back on the shore, with over seventeen hundred years of racing experience between them, The Americans pit spot was being manned by racing legends Racer Allen, Ralph Donald, and U.S. A-Team strong-arm Tom Nuccio. Acting as point man and chief problem solver was Candia New Hampshire’s Bob “Crow-bar” Cronin, and serving as International Jury Member and Team Administrator was UIM Veteran Rachel Warnock from Pewaukee Wisconsin.

    When the Saturday morning test session came to a close however, The Americans hopes were doused with the harsh reality that comes with racing small outboards high in the Alps. Being far from the speeds and RPM’s that they were seeing at home, The Americans were getting the feeling that they would not have propellers small enough for the conditions. “We’re just not getting the horsepower” stated the disappointed captain after conferring with fellow driver Anderson and sensing that he too, was having the same problem.

    At the conclusion of time trials later in the day, the Americans were again smacked in the face with a reality check when Allen qualified seventh, a far cry from last year’s number one spot with the same boat, with Anderson in 13TH.  Up at the top it was the Polish entry of Cezary Strumnik in # 29 gaining the coveted pole position with the fastest lap of the day on the ¾ mile triangular circuit followed by Estonian stalwarts Rasmus Haugasmagi #77 and Sten Kalder driving #173.  Englishman Luke Hugman qualified fourth in the #87 followed by Estonian’s Anika Suuk piloting #9 and Algo Kuus #6 in sixth.

    At the start of heat one, the weekend’s racing nearly came to an end for American Todd Anderson when he stalled a hundred yards off the starting jetty. The untimely breakdown placed him right smack in the path of the oncoming pack as they rounded turn two and headed by the grandstands. Paddling for all he was worth, Anderson got himself out of harm’s way quick enough and far enough where the race committee deemed no heat stoppage was in order. ”I just started paddling as fast as I could” said the wide-eyed pilot after his safe return to the jetty.  The drama of international competition however, was not over for Anderson. Meanwhile, out on the course, the battle raged as last year’s Silver Medalist Rasmus Haugasmagi slugged his way to the front of the pack to lead the race to the wire with countryman Sten Kalder second and pole sitter  Cezary Strumnik third.  Allen was not fast but certainly not bored either as he engaged in a tremendous mid-pack duel with England’s Luke Hugman finishing eighth to Hugman’s seventh. The remainder of the pack finished close to their starting position with the exception of Slovakia’s Miroslav Bazinski. The 2009 World Champion stormed from the tenth spot on the jetty to finish in fifth. The crafty driving and obvious power of Bazinski would later be overcome only by the inside starting position of the speedy Estonians.

    In heat two, Haugasmagi, now starting from the pole, led from the start as fellow Estonian Kalder, went to the back of the pack with mechanical trouble.  The story of heat two was once again Miroslav Bazinski as he now lunged from the fifth starting position to second place where he seemed to actually be gaining ground on the leader. The third finisher was Anika Suuk and fourth went to Algo Kuus as England’s Hugman rounded out the top five. Allen improved by one position to seventh and American Todd Anderson finally finished his first heat of European UIM Competition.

In heat three, a two boat collision in turn two sent Italian drivers Igor Vallisa, #75 and Polloni Sederico, #61 into Lake Barcis for a very chilly swim. The UIM “man in the water” rule went into effect sending all boats back to the jetty for the restart. Unfortunately for American Pilot Todd Anderson, the path of the rescue boat speeding to the accident crossed his T and he launched off the rollers into a spectacular stuff. The force of the collision totally inverted the windshield and sent him crashing into the steering wheel filling his boat with water. As the rescue crew tended to the accident, Anderson was towed pack to the pits where he barely made it before sinking. With most of the Americans out on the jetty waiting for the re-start, Anderson was rescued and re-floated by the capable hands of Racer and Nuch with the help of Italy’s Giuseppe Rossi and Slovakia’s Robbie Heinz among others. He then proceeded back to the jetty in time for the restart. “That was really wild!” stated the soggy Anderson after the heat. “I couldn’t believe the way all those other teams jumped in to get me going again.” 

    At the re-start of heat three, it was only the coveted pole position held by Rasmus Haugasmagi that held the hard charging Bazinski at bay. The race for the Gold came down to this heat because if Bazinski could get to the front and gain the heat win and then start heat four from the pole, he would definitely have a chance at a second World Championship. With the tension rising and the wild masses in the grandstands springing to their feet, the red light expired and the pack once again roared to the first turn. It was a dead tie to the buoy between Haugasmagi and Bazinski with The Estonian holding the inside position and the Slovakian leaning on his shoulder like a drunk on a subway as they rounded turn one. Bazinski seemed to be pulling on the outside but the inside track was just too much of an advantage for him to overcome as the two combatants roared around the course for six laps together. As the checkered flag flew in was Haugasmagi nailing down his third heat win and thus securing the Gold Medal as the Estonian pits erupted into mayhem.

    After clearing the scales amid handshakes and backslaps from his fellow competitors, Haugasmagi, along with his hull, were quickly hustled into the closed inspection tent for the post-race technical scrutineering process. Although Haugasmagi did not need to compete in heat four, the final Medal positions would there be determined.

    As the boats lined up on the jetty for the final heat and with the absence of Haugasmagi, it was now Bazinski on the pole with the other fast Estonian, defending World Champion Sten Kalder, to his immediate right. Next to him were Luke Hugman from England, Algo Kuus and The American Allen starting in the fifth spot. The race for the next two podium positions would be between Bazinski, Kalder and Hugman.

    From the very start of heat four there was no question that Bazinski had the power as the crazed Slovakian put the hammer down and led wire to wire to take the heat win and secure the Silver Medal. Kalder finished the heat in second to take The Bronze with Hugman finishing in third and Allen in fourth with The Americans best heat finish of the weekend.

    Clearing the scales after heat four, Miroslav Bazinski was all smiles and gracious thanks to the spectators and his fellow competitors. With his tenth place starting position in heat one, Bazinski’s effort to storm through the pack of world class competition to claim The Silver Medal may have been the most impressive performance of the entire race weekend.

    As for the battle weary Americans, even though they didn’t quite have the speed this year there were some marked improvements. The starting crews on the jetty were flawless as Akerstrom and Poliakoff had their respective charges out of the gate and heading to turn one right up there with the leaders. Asked About the pressure of being the starter at The World Championship, Akerstrom later stated that he was “freaking out” while waiting for the red light to expire and Poliakoff was admittedly wondering “why the heck I came here”. Asked about the race afterwards, The Team Captain was heard saying that having an American presence in UIM, introducing many APBA drivers to the international racing experience and battling mid pack would have to be enough for this year. “I am extremely proud of my entire team” said the tired Allen after the Sunday evening awards ceremony. “They acted like professionals the entire time even though things weren’t really going our way. Every single one of them was proud to represent The United States of America and to participate on the world stage. They will go home with new friends from all over the world and many stories to share. “  Allen was also quick to acknowledge the support from all of the people who got the team to Europe. “By supporting this program our donors and sponsors should also share in this pride and they can be certain that we are all sincerely grateful to have them behind us as we continue to move forward. ”  

On a side note, Polish driver Cezary Strumnik and Englishman Luke Hugman have been invited by The APBA Historical Society and The U.S. A-Team to race here in The United States this fall. They will both be present and racing at The Lock Haven Labor Day Regatta in September.

Unity Flagstaff Reporting.

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