LAUSANNE,Switzerland – 28th of December, 2006 – One of the cornerstone’s of the sport of power boating racing died yesterday when Dutch native Cees Van der Velden lost his battle to cancer which ended his 40 year association with the sport.
The native of Nistelrode, Holland entered boat racing later than most starting in 1966 at the age of 23. He began in local events in the V-hull 70 class and quickly got the desire to expand his role as a worldwide enthusiast of the sport. In his 24 years of racing, Cees won 7 World Championships missing a possible 8th in 1976 because of an accident.
Along with those titles, he also won several times in the Dutch and European Championships in the early OPC (Outboard Performance Classes) which were boats with tunnel design technology.
The original “Flying Dutchman” Cees joined the catamaran class in 1970 and in just two seasons won his first World Title while defeating another legend in Renato Molinari of Como, Italy his teammate at the time, in a Molinari designed boat. After racing with Team Mercury for 4 years, Cees jumped ship and joined Outboard Marine Corporation (OMC) in the winter of 1974.
Cees, was now free to design and race his own boats at OMC and relished in this environment. Prior to this, he and his American teammate Bill Seebold of St. Louis, Missouri teamed up to win the famous Paris 6-hour and Parker (Arizona) Enduro events in the summer of 1974.
Van der Velden was in his prime in the 1970’s winning the ON class titles in 1974, 1975 and 1979, while winning the Continental ON titles in 1974, 1976, 1978 and 1979. He also captured the Continental OZ title in 1977, 1978, 1980 and 1981.
When the sport changed and OMC moved to the V-8 class for the 1981 opening U.I.M. F1 World Championship season, Cees was right there in the thick of it, fighting old rival Molinari at the very first race in Como, Italy in July of that year, taking 2nd place. Two years later, he would win the race in 1983 and finish either 2nd or 3rd in the World Championship fight the first four years the title was held. His 8 career wins marks him 6th all-time in the U.I.M. F1 drivers victory column.
Cees went out in style winning his final race of his career in Beaumont, Texas in September of 1989. He defeated multi-time World Champion Bill Seebold who lost the lead when the new Mercury 2.5 litre engine broke the first time in racing competition leaving the sport with a checkered flag in hand.
His career didn’t stop after his racing laps concluded. He went on to be a U.I.M. Commissioner and work on the appeals board into this 2006 season. Cees is widely known for his safety innovations making the sport a friendlier place for the newest generation of drivers. He helped develop the first power steering system for pilots as well as helping work on the first survival capsule that is widely used today throughout the world. He also explored the edge of the sport by trying adjustable sponsons as well as wings and even breaks that were innovate but not always right for their time.
Part of the famous “Black Angels” boat team formed by Mercury Marine in 1971 along with Seebold, Molinari and his cousin Cesare Scotti to name just a few, the bitter battle between the two giants of the marine industry at the time Mercury and OMC would see Cees jump back and forth between teams more than once. He would later take up the torch and continue to build the V-6 OMC engine even after the company declared bankruptcy in 2000.
Cees, discovering his fate from his doctors back in early November and knowing he only had a few more months to live with his cancer, elected to join the two final events of the 2006 U.I.M. F1 World Championship in Abu Dhabi and Sharjah in mid-December as Race Commissioner for the last time. The legend from Boxtell, Holland worked the Abu Dhabi event before falling ill just prior the final round at Sharjah missing the race while in hospital on later to find out that American driver Scott Gillman of the Emirates Team had taken the title for the 4th time.
Part of the original “Three Amigos” of the sport, Cees leaves us with a safer, more exciting and brighter future thanks to all his thought and desire to make the sport part of the 21st century drive to showcase the world’s best show on water today.
A true, racer, boat builder, technician, official and innovator Cees gave and we have all benefited from it. God’s speed Cees Van der Velden!!