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A tale of heros...today and yesterday

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Old 09-19-2010, 01:06 PM
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Great job on the write up T2X.
Its material like this that reminds me of why I come here.

Congrats to the entire "Little Sonic that could" team.
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Old 09-19-2010, 07:48 PM
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Rich,
I am truly humbled by the fact my name is mentioned with the offshore greats in the same story. Fact is I don't feel much like a hero...just a guy with a boat, a dream, desire and some determination. Thank you so much for the kind words, I'm still in shock today, I was having breakfast with my wife this morning and she asked me why my hands were shaking....I had to explain that I was still in race mode....fact is if there was another this morning I would have been there!
Charlie whispered.....more like yelled over my thundering small blocks :-).... just before the start "you are about to get your first fix of something very addictive" He was right; I mainlined endurace racing.... Now I'm trying to figure how I'm going to field a team to do the Round Britain race next June.
Thanks to all for their kind words I can't tell you how great it makes me feel to be appeciated for doing something I love to do even if there was no race. Fact is I had to drive slower than I usually do to be sure I did not break anything so I could finish.....
Thanks again
Joe
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Old 09-19-2010, 08:19 PM
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Rich,
I am truly humbled by the fact my name is mentioned with the offshore greats in the same story. Fact is I don't feel much like a hero...just a guy with a boat, a dream, desire and some determination. Thank you so much for the kind words, I'm still in shock today, I was having breakfast with my wife this morning and she asked me why my hands were shaking....I had to explain that I was still in race mode....fact is if there was another this morning I would have been there!
Charlie whispered.....more like yelled over my thundering small blocks :-).... just before the start "you are about to get your first fix of something very addictive" He was right; I mainlined endurace racing.... Now I'm trying to figure how I'm going to field a team to do the Round Britain race next June.
Thanks to all for their kind words I can't tell you how great it makes me feel to be appeciated for doing something I love to do even if there was no race. Fact is I had to drive slower than I usually do to be sure I did not break anything so I could finish.....
Thanks again
Joe
That's a class act right there. Congrats again.
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Old 09-19-2010, 08:21 PM
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Rich......thank you for the kind words, I too feel humbled to be mentioned with those past greats. I was very pleased to see both you and Darren and George Linder there to see us off before the race..thank you again.

This is really the story of Joe and Jonathan, I was just along for the ride, but perhaps I might share some observations to keep your thread alive............



I was very fortunate to be offered a crew position on a boat that was entered in the Don Aronow Memorial Around Long Island Race this past weekend. It is a mid 80’s Sonic that is 30 feet long and powered with twin small blocks with Alpha Mercruiser drives with cooling showers on them. It is a production boat, not a special one off race boat.

The owner of the boat Joe De Fusco is not only the rigger, chief mechanic and truck driver for the team, he is also the driver and throttleman on the boat. He invited a friend of his to be the navigator. His friend Jonathan Tobin is not a power boater, but he is a highly experienced racer from the world of offshore sailboat racing with many experiences including a Trans Pac race under his belt. Jon has gone on a few poker runs with Joe, so he kind of knew what to expect…not really, as he found out quickly, poker runs and offshore races are very different.

I was the last member of the crew and as Joe explained very clearly up front, the boat only had two bolsters and the only place for me would be to stand behind the bolsters and astride of the life raft case mounted on the floor. I did have grab handles on the backs of the two bolsters but no lean back bolster. Knowing exactly what I was getting into I readily accepted the very generous invitation.

I won’t go into the various promises by both individuals and boat companies to enter the race, but when race day dawned we had just 5 boats. Two big state of the art Outerlimits, a cat and big deep vee, with a British Team on board. The third boat was an 18 foot Donzi entered by a team that had never raced before, but had driven all night from Virginia just to get here and be part of the event. Unfortunately on the trip up, the water pickup for the engine had broken after rubbing against part of the trailer. I believe the trailer was borrowed, so they could make the journey and they didn’t realize the boat had shifted enroute. Another single engine boat, a 27 footer was entered, but the owner stated beforehand that he was only going to run with us at the start and go down the sound a short way. Last but not least was our little 30 foot Sonic.

The big 53 foot Magnum owned by Guy La Motta was our pace boat. As we rumbled toward the start, one of the boats jumped the start by not waiting for the green flag and our driver started to go also. I tapped him on the shoulder and told him to wait for the green, he backed off and in a few seconds the Magnum was abeam us and soon the remaining boats lined up and then the green was up and the race was on.

The Outerlimits cat was soon just a dot of spray ahead of us and we began to settle into a nice pace. The navigator was holding a hand held GPS unit and was signaling the port or starboard adjustments to our driver. We had a newly installed front fuel tank with 50 gallons in it and our plan was to burn that off first so that when we hit the ocean, we would just be using the factory installed fuel tanks and not have to worry about the weight sloshing around this jury rigged front tank. It would also shift the center of gravity further back.

The inevitable happened next, the 52 foot, quad engine deep vee British entry Outerlimits had spooled up and was now passing us and headed off to catch the cat on the horizon. We realized this was the first run for the deep vee and there might be some bugs still to be worked out, but we were hoping they would do well after the enormous expense they had in coming to support our race. We waved good luck to them on and watched as their spray began to grow in the distance chasing the cat.

Now the hard part of the race began. This is the time when you need mental discipline to be alone and not have a boat to race against or the crowds to cheer you on. Only the crew on the boat knows for sure if you are pushing or not. Are you babying the boat and yourself or are you pushing as hard as you can and going for the win, regardless of what the facts are telling you? I am very happy to report this crew was pushing just like they were old hands at this stuff.

At this point on the north side of the sound, the water was fairly calm and I took advantage of that fact, to actually sit down in the rear bench seat and get down out of the wind over the deck…..this was a big mistake as I will explain later.

We ran through the front tank in about 50 minutes….so I informed the crew that our burn rate was 1 gallon per minute at the speeds we could run in calmer waters. We stopped briefly to switch the fuel lines form the front tank back to the rear tanks. At that point, I was able to give Joe some old school tips about small adjustments that he could make to his driving style. He understood immediately and used them for the rest of the race to our advantage. I say at that point, because the intercoms in the helmets stopped working at about the same time the green flag was raised…old school forever, yell louder and deeper.

When the fuel was switched and we were ready top take off again, we discovered that one trim tab was no longer working, it was stuck in the up position. So Joe, very expertly began rocking the boat to trick it to make it think it was a flat bottom and head for the trough of the waves and pretty soon we were up and running again. I tapped him again and said sincerely..”Nice job buddy”.

When we were stopped for a quick moment I took advantage of that time to grab a trail bar and get it down for some more energy, that I knew we would be needing in the ocean. As the trip went on, I began feeling very sickly and could feel my strength starting to drain away. I thought for sure the trail bar had been bad and was making me sick. As we rounded Orient Point and heading for Montauk, I was having a hard time holding on the bars behinds the bolsters and was trying to find a more steady position to brace myself.
Suddenly just as we rounded Montauk, and on one of the bigger waves that was rolling under us with a lot of energy, the boat veered to the left and we all were thrown hard against the starboard side. Joe quickly informed us the power steering was gone and he was going to look under the hatch to see if a belt had popped off.

While Joe was checking the engines, I changed positions with Jon and I took my helmet off and sat in the cold breeze and really started feeling ready to heave that trail bar. Joe realized that it wasn’t a belt, but he did spot oil spray all over back there and knew we had a leak of the power steering fluid from one of the hoses. The waves were much too big to do much more so we headed off for our fuel stop at Shinnecock. Jon gracious allowed me to stay up front in the bolster and he assumed my old position as the navigating here was just a run down the coast to the inlet. I told thme if I didn’t fgeel any better drop me off at the gas dock and they could continue on as I didn’t want to hold them up from going as fast as they could.

When we got to Shinnecock, the waves were very big, very big. I’m not going to get into size here, but they were big. As we approached the inlet, the waves were breaking a way offshore and then surfing into the inlet itself. Joe managed without power steering or both trim tabs to bring the 30 foot boat in front a just the right wave and then proceed to use the power to surf the wave all the way into the inlet. At one point the entire length of the boat was on the face of the wave and heading down faster and faster, but he managed to keep it straight and true and we made it safe and sound.

When we entered the inlet, we could see a lot of boats, bit boats that would rise and fall with the waves. Sometimes we could see them and other times they were down in the trough. I thought to myself…this is really great to have this many boats to welcome us here at the gas stop, that Billy Frenz really put the word out. As we got closer we could see they were the day charter fishing boats loaded with people who were fishing in the inlet. We found out later, that the waves were too big for them to get out, so they just fished right there.

As we pulled into the gas dock Jon roused himself from the rear seat and said that it wasn’t the trail bar that made me sick, it was the gas fumes in the cockpit and that he now was very sick also. Since I had been riding up front in the bolster, I was now feeling much better. When we stopped we could clearly smell the fumes from the front tank. The two front positions were free of much of it as the breeze over the deck cleared it away, but the person in the back had the fumes swirl around them especially if they sat down and got lower in the cockpit. Just then the phone rang???????????

It was Rich Luhrs. He said why are you stopped? I said we were at a fuel stop and had a couple of problems…one trim tab wasn’t working, the cockpit was filling with fumes, the power steering had failed as we lost fluid and even though it was cold, Joe was soaked in sweat as he had been driving from Montauk in very big water with no power steering. Rich responded as only an old racer would…Well, get it all fixed quick and come on home as your in the lead!!!!! What did you say? I asked him. You guys are in the lead, the other boats have dropped out on the north shore, no one even made it to Orient Point, so come on home and you’re the winners.
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Old 09-19-2010, 08:30 PM
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I'll finish the story tommorrow as I am still very tired.

Thanks to all again....it was dream ride.
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Old 09-19-2010, 08:34 PM
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I'll finish the story tommorrow as I am still very tired.

Thanks to all again....it was dream ride.
Sleep well you deserve mad respect for riding with us and coming back the way you did!
Remember- Old age and treachery my friend!
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Old 09-19-2010, 08:45 PM
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Great thread guys!

Look forward to reading about the rest of the race.
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Old 09-19-2010, 09:57 PM
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Great thread guys!

Look forward to reading about the rest of the race.
Same, would love to hear the rest.
I was there to witness them coming them back into the bay.
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Old 09-19-2010, 11:20 PM
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One of the best offshore racing stories in a long time...congrats to the entire crew!
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Old 09-20-2010, 12:01 AM
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Congrats guys!
That is what offshore racing is all about!
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