Controversy at 2008 Zapcat UK titles

Team Pegasus Vortex Racing jut before incident - Watergate Bay Zapcat Grand Prix 2
Carl Broadis
Team Pegasus Vortex Racing pilot Mick Pritchard (Southampton) isn’t having much luck when it comes to Zapcat Racing recently. The 2007 Zapcat Champion and King of Surf Injured himself in a freak accident at the penultimate round of the Zapcat Championship in Watergate Bay.

Team PVR got off to a flying start in their first heat of Round 13 in the championship 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 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.

Fellow racer Neil Fraser(Fleet) 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 . 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.

2007 Zapcat Champion Mick Pritchard - Watergate Bay Zapcat Grand Prix 2
Carl Broadis
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 it’s 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!”

Neil and PVR co-pilot Baz Minns(Christchurch) went on to take 6th in the days final finishing 1 vital place behind Commando Predator(Lymington) who are their closest rivals in the championship campaign.

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.

Team PVR managed to secure five heat wins during the Saturday’s racing and were looking unstoppable as condition’s picked up through out 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 seventh 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.

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 PVR with the help of Neil managed to do enough to secure the Zapcat National Championship from rivals Commando Predator Bligh Julius and Simon Butters and walked away with the king of the Surf title as well. Further good news was to come to aid their celebrations although Mick had broken his back he was diagnosed to make a full recovery and would be home with his friends and family in the week.

Celebrations have been short lived however Mick is home and making a good recovery but yesterday they had notification from the RYA Powerboat Racing Department of a pending appeal against the eligibility of the team racing with Neil Fraser as pilot for the final two rounds of the Championship.

Mick explained “In most normal Powerboat Racing classes you can protest at an event if you think a rule has been infringed, Zapcat racing doesn’t allow this, we sort our problems out on the water and we let the Zapcat officials make the decisions on what’s right or wrong -the rules are clear.

'If you’re not happy with the decision the only option you have is to ask the RYA to decide for you. I’ve been told today that Commando Predator; our closest rivals in the championship this year, are not happy that Neil drove for me on the Friday and Saturday after I broke my back.”

He continued “They’ve submitted an appeal to the RYA Powerboat Racing department against Neil’s eligibility to drive the boat. The RYA will form a panel to look at the appeal and my side of the story and they’ll decide for us who wins. I’m confident we haven’t broken any rules and that the panel will make the correct decision based on the facts and information they are given by both sides. Now we just have to wait and see.”