Throttles- Cleveland Construction 377 Talon
08 OPA Class 1 National Champion
08 Class 1 Geico Triple Crown Champion
08 OPA High Points Champion
10 OPA Class 1 National Champion ( happy now Ed! )
I had a blast doing it. You have no idea untill your in one upside down.
Anyone with a canopy boat should needs to do it just so they know not to let friends ride in their boat.
Its fantastic training but it's still not the real thing.
1. the dunker has no glass so it fills instantly.
2. the pool is bright underwater. With a visor down and dark water, it's like being blind so it's all done by feel.
3. there's no effect of a crash to disorientate the crew.
Todays canopies are made so well that unless the glass lets go, it's almost air tight. When Mauff rolled in KW, they had to wait for some water to come in to pop the hatch.
Here's an interview with Gary Ballough right after he went over for the first time. St Pete - O5 Worlds Article - EBM.
I caught up with Gary Ballough as he took some sushi from one of the body painted waitress.
Gary, that had to be the quickest flip in offshore racing history, what happened? “We saw the green flag and we punched it. I felt comfortable, the boat wasn’t running out of shape or anything. We knew the wind was blowing toward the beach so there wasn’t a problem with getting too much air under the hull. As we started to get up to speed, about ten seconds into it, the front of the boat came up and the wind got a hold of us. What I didn’t anticipate was the force of the wind. I was reading the water and not the wind, which is a rookie mistake, I should have known better at this point of my career, but I miss judged the wind. When the bow lifted the wind just sort of corkscrewed us up and over we went.”
I understand this was your first time going over? “ Yup, first time in nineteen years of racing, they said that’s a record, well I would have liked it to have continued for another nineteen years but we didn’t want to disappoint the fans” he says with a laugh.
How was the actually experience of going over and getting out compared to the Dunker in a swimming pool? At that question, Gary sat down, put down is plate of sushi and said, “I do the dunker about four times a year and it saves lives, it probably saved mine today too, even though I made of bunch of mistakes while getting out. What you don’t expect is the unexpected, and that’s what happened to me. I did what your not supposed to do and I’d like all my fellow racers to learn from my mistakes. I went to get out of the boat first instead of reaching for my air supply. My mistake and luckily, it didn’t cost me my life.”
Did you panic? “No, there was no panic, it’s more like you’re in shock. It’s like someone just punched you and you need to get reoriented to your surroundings before you can figure out what to do first. My instinct was to get out of the boat, again my mistake, it should have been to reach for the SCUBA regulator. It was dark and after I released the belt, I ended up floating against the floor. I also couldn’t find my spare air bottle that should have been attached to my leg, again my mistake. So I’m upright in the upside down boat and I could feel a pocket of air with my hand, so like you see in the movies, I stuck my face against the floor and found a small two inch pocket of air trapped against the floor. I drew in two breaths of air and thought about the situation for a second or two. I’m thinking to myself, this is it. If I don’t get out on this breath, I’m not getting out. Billy was already out by now so I’m in the canopy alone. As I was swimming around, I felt a hose, it was Billy’s regulator. I put it in my mouth and took a few breaths, looked around and saw a light that was the canopy opening that I was looking for. I swan out headfirst and met one of the rescue divers that were on the way in to get me. I love those guys, now more than ever. You just can’t imagine the feeling of knowing that those guys were there when I needed them most. I have no doubt that they would have saved my life if anything had gone really wrong.”
I bet at your next race, you’ll spend a few extra seconds making sure all your safety equipment is race ready. “Yes, we rushed to get here, get the boat ready and that’s still no excuse for not having everything perfect and ready for the unexpected. I made some rookie mistakes and I don’t want to see anybody make the same mistakes that I did. After winning eight national titles and five World Championships, I’m embarrassed to say that I’m still making rookie mistakes. Everyone please put safety first and learn from my mistakes.”
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