JOINS POWERBOAT P1 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
"Old" race boats never seem to die; they just become part of a recycling process that connects racers from around the world in a fraternity of offshore history. That very experience brought Patrick Huybreghts, a Belgian, together with Adib Mastry, an American boat racer and engine specialist over a decade ago. Just recently, the two closed a deal on a new Nor-Tech racing boat that could launch Huybreghts and his Powerboat P1 Spirit of Belgium Racing Team into a new chapter of his racing history.
Mastry, who owns Mastry Engine Center on the West Coast of Florida, had sold engines for a Hatteras to Belgian Ray Van den Langenbergh, a friend of Huybreght's. As often happens in the boating business, friendship circles broaden and before long, Mastry was selling his own 38' Nor-Tech race boat with Mercury Racing 500's to Huybreghts. The boat had great credibility in racing for Mastry and was a step up for Huybreghts from his 21' Scarab. The two did several other boat deals to service Huybreght's business, Offshore Events, a corporate entertainment company that provides helicopter, Ferrari and powerboat rides to executives and their guests.
Though the 2009 Powerboat P1 World Championship was Huybreght's "rookie" racing season, he already proved his mettle as a throttleman in over 15 years of powerboating and by setting a Guinness Book of World Records for an English Channel crossing speed record at 29 minutes, 26 seconds in 2007, towing waterski champ Micha Robyn. When he decided to go racing in the SuperSport class, his 38' Nor-Tech with twin Mercury Racing 500's seemed good enough for the competition; his 3-man team including Marc Sluszny and Micha Robijn proved fairly successful-especially in Sweden where they earned a second place finish, before blowing up their engines in the last race of the season.
Ever-competitive, Huybreghts wanted to do better in 2010 and the props began to turn when he and veteran P1 racer and former commentator, Shelley Jory-Leigh, formed a new team. Jory-Leigh, who earned her reputation as a strong and fierce competitor in the former Honda Series (now a part of Powerboat P1 called SuperStock), went on to race in P1 with US championship racer Nigel Hook, then with Audrien Ciantar of the Chaudron Maltese boat-building family. When the two racers put their heads together, true team work happened and they have their sights set on a promising year.
The duo will head to Cape Coral, Florida to test the new boat at the end of February, just in time to get it shipped to Europe for the start of the 2010 Powerboat P1 season in Split, Croatia. The boat is Nor-Tech's 427, the newest V-bottom and will sport Mercury Racing 600 engines with six drives. Nor-Tech builds both catamaran and V-bottom hulls and though the principals are Norwegian, they have been building high-performance boats in Florida for over 20 years. Huybreghts is looking forward to a return trip to Florida to get into the boat, having just returned from seeing its building in-progress. While there, he will work with both Nor-Tech and Mastry, who can provide additional racing set-up assistance, based on his own racing in a Nor-Tech and work with numerous offshore clients. "It is a good experience to work with such experienced people," Huybreghts says of his racing partners, "I can hear the excitement in their voices!"
"It has been some time since we've gone racing-we've built boats to provide comfort and features not found in most performance boats," says Trond Schou of Nor-Tech, "It will be a good experience and we're looking forward to seeing one of our new boats in Powerboat P1." Huybreghts is already entertaining thoughts of moving up from SuperSport into the Evolution class in a canopied Nor-Tech and also has some future plans about managing logistics for other teams who do not have the time to coordinate the details. "But I have a few more good racing years!" he laughs. And with Jory-Leigh in the driver's seat, the Spirit of Belgium is likely to be in the running for some time.
-source: powerboat p1