PLACING third in the A Class (130mph) category of the Great Race on debut could be considered an achievement, but Cat Killer’s crew members have learnt from their experience and are hoping to do even better next weekend for the 50th edition of the inter-island race.
Speaking to Newsday yesterday, throttleman Lee Pollonais said they encountered a few teething problems last year which hampered their performance.
“My driver and I had never raced before – that was our very first race – and at that point in time, we didn’t give the boat a proper mechanical shakedown because we only just got the boat. We didn’t know each other so it was a sort of self-imposed handicap. Now, I’m racing with Gary Johnson and we have always been a good team together and that’s a big part,” he said.
Pollonais said final touches are currently being done to Cat Killer before they do battle against the seven other boats in the A category. “Preparations have been going good; our engine builder is coming on Sunday to give us a once- over between next week Monday or Tuesday. We will do a final test run on Tuesday and that will be the last of the preparations. It will be the final blessing before the race.”
Cat Killer clocked a time of one hour and 20 minutes last year and Pollonais believes they can go faster but he remains cautious of the route. “Best of luck to all racers participating but safety first! The north coast which is over 80 miles long, you cannot predict anything; it is never consistent throughout the race.”
He continued, “Where I am not particularly fond of is the ‘Bocas’ with all the spectators’ boats, it can be quite nerve-wrecking when you reach at that point going at 130 miles per hour with seven other boats.
Unfortunately, you cannot actually see a clear path until you reach upon it.” He further explained, “That is a transition period of relatively calm to when you get in the rough waters so that period that you have to settle your boat down.”
The throttleman was hesitant to predict Cat Killer’s placing when they reach Store Bay, Tobago, but he said,” I expect to improve on my performance, a matter of fact, it will be quite a spectacle. It is a great class, great competitors and great friends. There is absolute camaraderie in the Trinidad and Tobago Power Boat Association because we are all good friends and competitors.”