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February 2018

It’s a funny old world at times? We are, and have been, members of numerous different organisations, clubs and groups over the years, and two things they all have shared in common is that firstly they are (usually) run by super enthusiasts who willingly give oodles of time and huge amounts of work for the good of the activity. More often than not, there was also an associated magazine, newsletter and even a yearbook. Only in the biggest national organisations were honoraria paid, most did it for free, often subsidising it all out of their own pockets. The second and less happy factor they share is that there are always individuals or groups within the organisations that are never happy with the way things are run, the content of the magazine, the conduct of the officers and so on. All too often there are also accusations of ‘taking advantage of positions’ to further their own activities, collections, get freebies and generally use the organisation to their own ends.

Pre twitter, this was restricted to ‘letters to the editor’ or person to person moaning, but one thing that has not changed is that few of the ‘complainers’ actively contribute anything other than their ‘subs’. Yes, organisations, magazines, events and the people involved do get stale for a variety of reason and those most intimately involved may not realise this or are happy with the ‘status quo’. Things do need to move on, but this is seldom achieved by ‘carping’. It is easy to make demands of volunteers or criticise, yet we relate two cases that illustrate this perfectly. The first was quite outspoken criticism of a couple running a national organisation by a number of members who thought far more should be done (by those running it) and that a new nationwide organisation be set up to oversee the same activity. It was inevitable that the prime mover of all this then pointed out that ‘he did not have the time to do it’. The second is closer to home and related by a long time officer faced with a number of proposals concerning what should be done within the association. Said officer stated that ‘he was in full agreement, and when was the person going to make a start’? ‘Ah well, I didn’t mean I was offering to do it?????

We are very lucky with material for the website, but numerous clubs to which we also belong are desperate for articles and contributions to enable magazines and newsletters to continue. It has also been pointed out to us at their events that there are those that do, but an equally large group that are prepared to sit there and let them. There are now fewer and fewer people, if any, willing to give up time to organise, administer and run events and clubs, even less if they are likely to get criticised or even sworn at. Why would they? Luckily in the world of tethered cars and hydroplanes, we still have those willing to take on the tasks, but it falls more and more to competitors to rally round and even compromise their own running to ensure meetings go ahead. A little help never goes amiss, criticism when a volunteer is seldom welcome.

For the ‘Pitbox’ this month there is a special offer, even better than a BOGOF, three for the price of one and three vintage designs by the ‘father of modern airscrew hydros’ Mike Drinkwater. Our Photo this month is a first glimpse at a new venture, ‘Pond Side Recipes’ and comes from Victoria Park, the first of several thousand more images from the Westbury Family that we are in the process of scanning.

Readers will be aware of the occasional Flash Steam Gallery specials that have looked at some of the less well known exponents of the 'black art'. For some while we have been preparing an extended version that celebrates the battle royal that took place from 1988 to 1998 between two acknowledged masters, Bob Kirtley and Ian Berne, which raised the record from 75mph to 118mph.  Part one deals with the race to the magic 100mph mark.

Once the dust has settled from the festive shutdown thoughts turn to the new season and the work needed to get boats and cars ready for the off, and hopefully performing as well, or more preferably, better than previously. The OTW bench has been busy, but with minor work compared to the intricate engineering that Oliver Monk details in the first of his 2018 'Ramblings'. We consider it an achievement to make new bridles without a visit to A&E! As usual, there is a informative mix of tooling, techniques and tips on 'how to', so thank you to Oliver for sharing all this with us and for spending the time to put it all together for publication. The past five years of 'Ramblings' are such a valuable source of material that we maintain the pages on the site for reference.

Tight Lines takes a look at the Model Hydroplane Club stand at Alexandra Palace and those of the Victoria and Blackheath Clubs, both stalwarts of tethered hydroplanes over the years.

Hardly an 'empty space' as it had to be filled immediately, but the computer that published every edition of OTW up to now is no more, the hard drive was likened to 'sounding like a steam engine', and coal fired computers are apparently no longer available. Hopefully this all works, goodbye XP?

Peter Hill has canvassed members of the Retro Club to determine which dates for track days would be preferred and has now published a provisional calendar, available on the Retro Club page.

January 2018

New Year already, so time to reflect on the season gone by, along with the highs and lows and the march of technology. An electric boat, a tiny A1 at that, now holds the outright tethered hydroplane record whilst 200mph is quite possible with an electric tethered car. One tethered car and three hydroplane world records, numerous national records and a string of personal best performances in this country have made it a remarkable season. Andriy Yakimiv, Ando Rhotmets and Danielle Duran have been notching up the wins throughout the year in Europe. The Smolnikov family continue with their remarkable careers and probably creating some sort of record as, between the three of them, they compete with both cars and boats in multiple classes and win regularly.

The British tethered hydroplane scene has been blighted this last year by the paucity of runs recorded, reflecting what also happened in the World Championships where less than 20% of the starts resulted in timed runs in some classes. The gremlins have had an absolute field day wrecking motors, drive trains, props and even boats, but after several lean years, it has been the A1 and A2 classes that have been the most competitive and produced a record and some lifetime bests. The A3 class has been annexed again by Tony Collins, with the vast majority of the runs he completed well into the 130s and two at 138+. The Picco motor still manages to frustrate again with only around one in five of the starts resulting in completed runs. The only other entrant into the 130+ club with an A3 was our ‘fast lady’ Lynn Blowers who can now lay claim to that title in both A2 and A3 classes. Jim Free has been making a MDS go exceedingly fast in a B1 Sport, while the imported B1s and Profi motors should go if only they could cure the yips. If the evil little gremlins put paid to far too many runs, illness and injuries have had an equally deleterious effect on entries, so we wish all those who are struggling a speedy recovery and hope to see you back on the water this year.

The European forays with tethered cars have had mixed results with Oliver Monk’s Workshop Ramblings detailing the many engine rebuilds he has had to undertake during the year. For the rest, no major disasters, but not entirely the speeds hoped for either. Breakages are an integral part of racing, but it would be gratifying to see a greater degree of reliability from the hydros, both at home and abroad. Perhaps some fundamental rethinking is required?

The ‘one a month’ Pitbox has provided some fascinating items over the last year and continues to spring surprises. First off for 2018 is again something very different as it is a drawing of a flight of fancy that did come to fruition, as a supplementary photo shows. Thanks to Miles Patience for all the material that relates to this long forgotten project.

The first article of the New Year was brought about by our ‘Where are they now’ Album, which featured several of Carl Wainwright’s superbly built cars. In spite of pleas on the site and facebook there is still no indication of where the cars are, but they are such an important part of British tethered car history that we have put together a potted history of each.

Reminders: Model Hydroplane Club stand at Alexandra Palace and a chance to see one of a pair of boats that changed tethered hydroplane racing completely. All domestic race and regatta reports will be deleted at the end of this month, so please save as required.

With youtube and facebook there are now numerous clips of tethered cars and hydros, vintage and modern and even live streaming of events. What is unusual to find is a published video for a particular event. Hartmut Berhrendt from Germany filmed the 2010 European Championships at Kapfenhardt and then produced a DVD for the RGSV. He has now uploaded the entire two hour video to youtube and passed us the link. Thanks to Hartmut there is a very watchable and well produced record of this event.