Racing diary 2009

Round 7- Last of the season at Towcester race course 26-27 Sept~

Before Towcester I had time to give the craft a full once over and managed to change the chipped thrust blades for a set of cleaned, balanced blades. I wanted to get there ready for practice straight away as this was a new course.

The extra time put in was worth it as i managed to get plenty of practice on the new course, the craft lapped up the long lakes and was set up well for the first race.

Pete and Matt Gill let me have a few laps in their F1 number 20 which was something else! Id never experienced acceleration like that before on motorbikes or any other vehicle!

In race 1 started in 3rd on the grid and managed to get away into the lead straight away which was how it stayed all race! Even though i had pulled away from the rest of the field who were battling amongst themselves i still kept on full pace to keep as i had Jamie in the Storm RS in the back of my mind, who had taken away a few 1st places on the last corner before! It didn't happen this time though!



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For the second race i was on pole with Jamie next to me, this was going to be a tight battle, i knew he still had the edge but his engine oiled up on the line and he was left way behind in the field. So i managed to get away in 1st again and turned down the pace for most of this race- no point flipping the craft on the water exit jumps! I came through to win this race as well which was slightly boring not actually racing anyone, but still not complaining with a win! A few times i felt an intermittent bogging and fading problem that felt like it could have been worn bearings which was not good, i thought i might have fixed it so carried on in the open race.


I also went out in the open race at the end of the day which was great fun and i managed to get Dave Polfrey in his fast F2, although he was having problems on the water, just where my craft was loving it.



On the Sunday morning i went to start the engine which did first pull as usual, then stopped dead instantly and felt like it had seized. We checked over the engine and freed it up so it span as normal again. There was no visible problem in the engine so we suspected either dying main engine or transmission bearings. I tried to start it again for the first race in red mist mode but it seized permanently this time. The problem was the transmission block bearing which i planned to check on the Christmas overhaul (bottom of this page) but never did so they had been on the craft the whole time it has run. This meant i couldn't compete in the Sunday races- so i took out Fran's spare craft in the last race and had some fun, cheers Fran!



Overall i came 4th for the weekend giving me 3rd Place overall in the UK F3 championship! All in all a great season, cant wait for next years world champs! See the diary for the new craft for next year's World Champs

Round 6- Jake's Place near Leicester 12-13th Sept~

This was my first time racing this course with a faster craft and in practice i was pretty scared by the jumps going in and out of the water. After a few laps i got into it and the craft felt really stable when it was jumping.

The first race was jump started by me then red flagged twice when people were flipping on the water section; this means you have to go back to the pits and go out after the next race. So it was a while until the first race began in earnest but i got away in first position straight away and began to build a small lead over the pack. I knew that Jamie was gaining on me in his 100hp Storm craft so i made sure i looked behind! He caught up by about the 4th lap and was right on my tail for the rest of the race. Every corner i had to check where he was and go very tight. For the last few laps he was right behind me and we were even side by side a few times where i got the first water entrance wrong! On the final corner i went wide and he nipped through to take the win in the best race i have ever been in. I didn't realise it was the last lap (didnt see the last lap board because i was so busy looking behind to see where he was) and i had gone wide to get a better overtaking line for a back marker just past the finish line... wont be making that mistake again

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I missed the one Sunday race due to ' unforseen circumstances'... so came 4th overall, but this still bumped me upto 3rd overall in the championship.

Round 5- Southampton 29-31 August~

In Southampton there was some great racing and i took my first meeting win. Every race was incredibly close with Rick and I taking 3 wins each and there was no decider until the last race. The craft performed faultlessly throughout the weekend apart from the endless repairs on the worn out skirt.

I had fun in a few open races with some carnage on the lake and very close racing.



For the last race i gave the blades a tiny bit more pitch and i managed to win the race coming from 2nd on the grid to Rick. A great meeting!

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Hovershow 50 at the hovercraft museum 25-26 July~

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To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first hovercraft a show was held at the museum, where i am storing the craft over the summer. 5 racing craft flew around a small circuit to show the crowd what it was all about, generating a lot of interest! Thanks to Nikki Turnbull for the pic and thanks to QinetiQ for supporting the display.

Round 4- Claydon House~

Last year at Claydon house it was the craft's first outing, this year we came away with our best result ever- 2nd overall and the first race win!

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It was borderline whether or not i would be racing at this event due to my elbow so i was sitting on the grid of the first race planning to sit at the back of the pack and go slowly. The arm had felt fine in practice, although i was finding the course very tough- i couldnt get the rhythm on the bumpy land sections and i was on the edge at a lot of the corners. But as the lights went i got a good start and was in the thick of it! In 6th for a few laps and gradually moved into 4th place. I exchanged knocks with Phil Hall and got into 3rd, and eventually 2nd after coming off well going through traffic.

The next two races were also great fun with plenty of jostling for positions and in some places due to luck and some craft advantage i managed to end up 2nd in both races. It was looking like craft with a shaft driven lift fan (shafties) had the advantage here as they can take long sweeping corners faster. The Venom craft which have 1 fan for lift and thrust are lighter but didnt seem to have the edge here.

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In the last race i got a great start straight into 1st place and for the first few laps i had a chance to widen the gap, as Dave, who had convincingly won the previous three races struggled to get past Jess in her Pink Venom. As soon as i relaxed slightly i saw him coming up behind me, by about lap 5 he was right in my thrust air behind me, i had to deal with backmarkers and anticipate his next move. We went down the water section side by side for the last two laps but i just managed to keep in front and finally i saw the final lap flag! I just concentrated on keeping my line and nearly lost it at the last hairpin where there was a yellow flag. Finally i could actually do a victory lap!



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Looking forward to Southampton at the end of August, will it be the Venoms or the shafties who come out on top at this tight, twisty course?





Thanks to Rebecca at Hovercraftvideo.co.uk, Roger at RLRdigital.co.uk and Chris Barr for the pics!


3rd Round- Rother Valley, July~

Being the plonker that i am i managed to smash up my elbow so had to give this race a miss, very annoying since i was looking forward to the mostly water course, with long sweeping curves! Just the sort of thing my craft loves! In spite of the great racing i missed (watched live over the internet) i had plenty of time to really think about the new craft. Still undecided on colour though...


Later in the month i had a chance to test a few things on the craft, the full amount of lift blades were put back in, definately better with them in. It meant i could do better starts with fewer blades- i could reel the engine up faster without actually going forward, but at low speeds the craft was much more draggy. I also had some time to tune up the thrust blades, which i wasnt 100% happy with at Manchester. New blades were put in giving a lower tip clearance. Even though none of the hull repairs had been done, i was ready as i ever would be for Claydon!

2nd Round- Magnoll's farm near Manchester (again) 23-25th May~

A return to this venue again with the wind direction changed made for a very different course. This was to be another 3 day weekend but as it was right in the middle of uni exams i had to leave a day early (and still failed Tuesday's exam but hey). This meant i could only compete in 4 out of the 6 races but i also tried an open race which was great fun. These races are open to all of the adult formulae and mean you can try your luck against craft in higher categories.

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In race 1 in had a good start getting off in 2nd but kept getting the craft airborne giving the crowd a good look at the bottom but losing me places. In the end i came 4th after a cycle of taking back places and losing them after getting airborne! Thanks to Shell Stead for getting pics of it flying. During the worst airborne moment the craft got extensive hull damage and lots of aluminum was riveted on!

In race 2 i managed to keep it on the ground but made some errors and let Dave get through coming 4th again.

Race 3 on Sunday was one of my closest to date.. I got off in 1st around the hairpin and for the next 3 laps i increased my lead to about a third of a lap while others were fighting amongst each other. However as i came upto the hairpin i was about to lap a backmarker who got in my way and caused me to spin the wrong way giving enough time for the leading pack to go through putting me in 5th place which i where i finished- i never got it back together that race!

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In the 4th race i came 4th again having not really found any pace and saving the engine slightly since it was over-revving slightly.



I decided to try my luck in the open race and it being my first one i started right at the back of the grid. It was 16 strong field of completely different craft and i managed to take quite a few people at the first corner. Throughout the race i was battling with another F3, Dave and we were both moving up the field taking 503 and F1x craft- sometimes an overtake could go wrong giving the person directly behind a chance to piggyback both places and Dave and i swapped places loads throughout the race, eventually he beat me into 6th but my 7th starting from the from the back of the grid was a great result.

The next race of the season will be at Rother Valley Country Park in Sheffield and i could potentially have the course advantage here as it is a predominantly water course, however i have broken my elbow so wont be able to compete. For live video commentary of the racing go to Keith Oakley's site


1st Race of 2009- Magnoll's farm near Manchester 3rd Overall! ~

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This course is famed for its weather after being abandoned due to high winds last season and there was a fair breeze this year. There is a straight going up the hill and coming back down which are both easy places to get the craft flying depending on the wind... Theres also a tight hairpin at the first corner which is normally carnage!


In spite of all the preparation done before the season i nearly missed the first race due to problems sorting out the new engine. It was 'ready' when the 10minute board went up and i started on the back of the grid having missed practice. After some tussles with some people i managed to get into 2nd place behind Phil Hall (a lot of people having already dropped out on the 1st lap. I went very tight into the hairpin and hit the tyres, falling out of my craft left holding only my handlebar-grip! There was a free course and i jumped back in and restarted, but when it did it was stuck on full throttle and it powered away leaving me kind of surfing before i got back to the handlebars! I managed to get back into 2nd and finished there having some good racing with Chris for a few laps.

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R2 on Sunday i was in 2nd spot on the grid but got out-dragged off the line by Tony and Rick, after a bad 1st corner i was sandwiched by Chris and Phil on the water, seeing water coming up through the lift fan! Coming from 6th i managed to get back upto 3rd which is where i finished. An eventful race!


R3 i managed to get into 2nd on the 1st lap after a fairly good start and giving Rick a 'racing nudge' on the water entrance


R4 was disappointing as after a fairly bad start i was putting in good laptimes and in 3rd place gaining on Tony and Rick who were battling each other but a small electrical box died and left me without power- which means no fuel. I manually primed and restarted the craft so i could go round the start-finish 1 more time to get enough laps to get points, then got trailered back to the pits.


R5 the last race of the weekend i finally got a good start having held back slightly so that i was unbothered going round the hairpin, going past into 3rd place, i was running in 2nd for a few laps but caught a gust coming down the hill and got out of shape sideways. This let 3 and 4 through, i managed to take back 3rd but couldn't catch Tony... again... Having got back into the pits i noticed the rudder had nearly unbolted itself which explained some difficulties i had had turning!

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It was a good first weekend with an overall podium in spite of being out-dragged off the start in most races. I still had good race pace though, getting fastest laps in a few races. Either we haven't really dialed the new engine in yet or the old one (which has been sold!) was better!


The next event will be at the same venue, with the course run backwards Peaches Pad near Manchester on the 23-25th May. I will only be able to make the first few days as i am in the middle of exams. To stream live video and commentary of the racing go to Keith Oakley's site

Rebuilding before season April 2009 ~

The craft was completely stripped down and checked over- as its the first hull from this mould i knew there would be some bits that needed reinforcement. The glass (most people use aluminium) angle around the edge and core foam i used in this hull was damaged in a number of places where there had been racing bumps (and the occasional fence or tractor Rob...). It was a pain repairing all of these bits after only the equivalent of half a seasons racing so these will be done differently next time. In fact pretty much everything will be different next time but more of that later... About_img_08


It even got cleaned!

Changes from last season will be a flowed and rebuilt engine to give a bit more power (and a 'drop in' spare for when that explodes), flow straighteners to give more stability in cornering and maybe more thrust and also various bits and bobs have been done to improve the strength and reliability of the craft.

All the engines i had (about 2 and a half) had either exploded or were knackered so when they were rebuilt they were done properly,on a student budget 'properly' means 'expensively' however a lot of people helped out. The cranks were done, Mitaka racing pistons have been used (supplied at a great price by P Seager engineering) and an engine has been flowed and ported by Cambridge Motorcycles...

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Flow straighteners were made out of sheet aluminium, we'll see if they make any difference..!



The first event of the season will be Peaches Pad near Manchester on the 2-4th May. In Formula 3 it looks like theres going to be a large grid of evenly matched craft which should make for some awesome racing. For live video and results of the racing go to Keith Oakley's site