The Black Tornado of Balestrieri flies to victory while the navigator Leroy has his own problems to keep in place the engines hatches, avoiding a possible disqualification.
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The sixth Dauphin D'Or race,1971
Three weeks after the Viareggio-Bastia-Viareggio a happy Wishnick and a little lucky roulette player Balestrieri find themselves on the opposite side of the Ligurian Sea to play their numbers at the Casinos of Monte Carlo and the Cote D'Azur for the fifth edition of the Dauphin D'Or of August 1 1971.
Only nine boats were on the small island of Les Embiez, which is a few yards of sea from the southern coast of France near Toulon, the famous naval base of the French Navy,.
Four top class driver in OP I,the duelists Wishnick and Balestrieri with Bonelli and Sopwith chasing a first win of career and season.
Of those present in Viareggio than the four above there were the English Green touring the Mediterranean and the Italians with Buriassi and Mangini. New in the fleet two Frenchmen, the originating in the Ivory Coast, Orio with "Safari Express" a monohull 32 'built by his co-driver Brouns and powered with four Mercury of 135 bhp each and Donnat with a boat of series Neptune "Orphie" with 2 OMC of 210 bhp each.
Balestrieri who had his 31' with deck in plywood,seriously damaged by the waves of the Viareggio-Bastia-Viareggio did arrive by air from Miami his new Cigarette 36' which was the first boat 36' built by Don Aronow's the year before and that the Italian driver stock held for the U.S. races with the glorious old 32'. Together with the Roman builder, the trusted Stuteville and,as navigator,the French actor Philippe Leroy who continued his internship movie but this time not in the cockpit of Wishnick like at Viareggio.
The route had small changes in the initial phase of the race with the inclusion of a section in the Bay of Toulon, before point to the island of Porquerolles and then the small island of Bagaud. From here the course start 'climbing' north-east, parallel to the coast for about 63 miles to the buoy of Monte-Carlo representing the turning point of this trip.
The 203 nautical miles of the new route, which were the same as the renovated course of the race in Viareggio, indicating a certain rivalry between the two races to maintain or neighbour the scepter of offshore main event in the Mediterranean.
The start scheduled for 09:00 on Sunday, August 1 had been postponed to 9:30 to allow the completion of refueling the boats that had proved unusually slow. After the start was leading the "Boss O 'Nova II” of Wishnick followed by Sopwith with “Enfield Avenger ", Balestrieri with "Black Tornado" and Bonelli with “Lady Nara" meanwhile has already halted the "Gnam VI” of Mangini.
After some uncertainty between the buoys in the first mile of race for some boats at Le Brusc the “Enfield Avenger” was leading, then the boats pointing north-west towards the bay of Bandol and returned to Les Embiez with the new leader Balestrieri that now was pointing to east towards the Bay of Toulon followed by Sopwith and Wishnick, while Bonelli is already posted due to engine problems. Followed far behind the other four boats. Despite strong waves the leaders run fast and after the first 53 minutes of race at the island of Bagaud, Sopwith was again leading on Wishnick and Balestrieri. Then again Bonelli and Orio.
Bonelli made a first stop at Cap Dramont, near St. Raphael trying to solve the mechanical problems meanwhile after two hours of race the three lead positions unchanged turning the buoy of Monte-Carlo at an average of 55 mph with calm waters enough and seems to favor the American who has a boat shorter than the other two. Bonelli try to catch up Orio but after Monte-Carlo is forced to stop again at Cap d'Antibes.
In return, Sopwith and Wishnick duel side by side, meanwhile Balestrieri seems wait in third place. At the Porquerolles Island Wishnick was leading again but gets screened by Sopwith, while Balestrieri lost contact with the two for a couple of navigation errors. Ah! Leroy!
Meanwhile a strong wind begins to blow from the southwest, then almost in front of the boats bows, and Balestrieri was quick to take advantage by pushing the throttles and avoid making the mistake of the year before, avoids along the inside of Bay of Toulon and tip off Cap Siciè, before Les Embiez.
Wishnick instead passes inside of the Bay of Toulon and is so spaced by Sopwith.
The “Black Tornado” 36’ now fly fast from one wave to another while the poor Leroy was forced to keep closed the engines hatches whose hinges gave way and likely to be lost in the water with the consequent possible disqualification of the boat. The UIM regulation forbade to run boats with uncovered engines.
Balestrieri wins and takes effect, before Wishnick that can limit the damage to the World Championship standings and Sopwith that in the meantime had lost time for problems with a water pump belt of an engine at five miles from the finish.
Bonelli limps to fourth and fifth was Orio winning the OP II class, followed by Green with his Magnum 27' "Snoopy" in sixth place, Buriassi, winner of the diesel class in seventh place, and finally Donnat eighth with the "Pipo IV”.
Balestrieri gnawing three points to Wishnick. Now the two contenders are separated by a win
and the Italian think to Oregrund with confidence. The North Sea is never quiet, and his 36' has already shown what is on the move.
But the mechanic curse is waiting for a chess game behind one of Sweden fjiords as Death awaited the knight Antonius Block in the Ingmar Bergman’s “The Seventh Seal” movie.