RYA National Powerboat Champion Wins 2008 Zapcat Championship with a Broken Back
Written by: Press Release
Submitted: 23rd September 2008
The 2008 Zapcat National Championship was decided this weekend at the season finals in Watergate Bay, Newquay. 28 teams made the journey to the UK's premier surfing venue for what was set to be a thrilling finale to the 2008 Season. Amongst the teams making the Journey were 2007 Zapcat National Champions team Pegasus Vortex Racing Pilot Mick Pritchard(Southampton) and Co-pilot Baz Minns (Christchurch), looking to defend their title and current lead in the championship.
There was excitement and disappointment as the racing got underway as Rookie teams faced racing conditions they'd not come up against before and the experienced racers faced some of the smallest conditions they'd seen in the past five years of racing.
Team PVR got off to a flying start in their first heat and had put the engine problems from the last round behind them as 2007 Kings of Surf they were back on form and on track for the title again. But disaster struck in their second heat when they landed on a rogue wave in the building conditions and Pilot Mick Pritchard landed with an almighty force on the deck of the boat and was launched out the boat he was brought ashore by the Zapcat safety team and was checked over by paramedics.
Meanwhile fellow racer Neil Fraser who had come down to support the team after taking a year out from racing stepped up to the challenge to race the weekend as PVR pilot, so with Neil at the helm the show would go on. Mick Pritchard commented on his accident "I've raced in much worse conditions than we faced today, in fact we practice in worse conditions; We landed on a rogue wave and I was unlucky, But the specialists have told me it could have been a lot worse. As a team we're sponsored by Skins and Forcefield body armour and I was wearing all my gear when the accident happened and with its support and because my body is used to the pressures the boat puts my body under through the practice I put in is why I'm not as bad as it could have been, it will take me a while before I'm back in the boat but I'll be back and can't wait." He continued "Neil had mentioned he was coming down and I'd joked in the week if anything happened to me or Baz he'd be the first person I wanted in the boat, I've missed racing against him this year he's a good racer and makes things challenging, We wouldn't have secured the Championship if he hadn't stepped in, the team owe him lots of beer!"
Conditions picked up and in an unusual boat and with a crew who had never raced together before Team PVR continued to dominate in their heats and secured a strong start for the days final. They got off to a flying start with closest rivals Commando Predator battling it out strong with them but the days glory was to go to Team PVR's team mates Vortex Racing Craig Davis and Rob Martin who shone in the surf and performed fantastically to take the gold medal of the day. Commando Predator managed to finish in 5th just a head of team PVR taking them just 5 points closer to the reigning champions lead.
Team PVR in action at Watergate
Bad news was to come that evening as Mick still in considerable pain was taken to hospital by his wife Lucy to be checked over; as the rest of the team waited anxiously for news on how he was. The call came late Friday night Mick had been moved to Royal Cornwall Hospital with a compression fracture in his lower back and was awaiting further x-rays.
Neil was asked if he'd be happy to pilot again in the Saturday's racing and he accepted, and in true team PVR spirit they got on with the days racing ahead of them. Team PVR managed to secure 5 heat wins during the Saturday's racing and were looking unstoppable as conditions picked up throughout the day. Heading into the final they were in pole position with team mates Vortex racing in second and Seavation Vortex of Dan Smith and Nathan Parker in 7th in the line up making a strong presence in the final for points that would help them with their team championship campaign for the year.
PVR and Seavation Vortex in action
The final was a closely fought battle with Team PVR and Commando Predator challenging each other for pole for the duration of the race with Vortex racing hot on their heals. Commando Predator took the gold medal with Team PVR securing second position and Vortex Racing following in third.
Team Pegasus Vortex racing celebrated without their pilot that evening at the annual Zapcat Awards dinner successfully securing the 2008 National Championship Title, 2008 Zapcat Kings of Surf and with team Mates Vortex Racing Craig Davis and Rob Martin in addition to Seavation Vortex Dan Smith and Nathan Parker took the 2008 Zapcat Team Championship. Vortex Racing were awarded the Watergate Bay Grand Prix and secured a fantastic third in the 2008 championship. So the champagne flowed but their thoughts still remained with Mick in his hospital bed as they raised glasses to their absent friend.
Co-pilot Baz Minns spoke of the misfortune of the weekend's incident "We landed heavily and when I turned around Mick wasn't there, the guys brought him in and I knew he was in pain as it took him a while to get up. Neil was a legend stepping in, although the boats are one design they all have different set ups which suit the individual teams and it must have been strange being in a different boat without his normal co-pilot." He continues "When we found out about Mick's back it hit us all it could have been anyone of us, so Neil and I knew we had to go out the next day and secure the championship, Mick may be in a hospital bed but he'll soon be back to normal and if we hadn't won ther'd be trouble, we've all worked to hard this season not to win it".