Back in the beginning of the year, Mike Bikhazi reported that the Otters were considering entering the RYA RIB Driving Championship in the 13-16 age group. The competition takes the form of a time trial around a set of marks - the fastest time wins. Skill and control and not necessarily speed are the most important factors. The winner of the Local Heat can progress into the Eastern Regional Heat and the winner of the Regional Heat can then progress to the National Final.
Not only would this improve the RIB driving skills of all the competitors, the main prize is attractive - a 4.8m RIB with a 60HP Honda engine, together worth about £18,000, for our club.
There were six competitors initially but these were whittled down until only Zac Bikazi remained and he continues to practise regularly. Each practice session must start by setting up the course which must measure exactly - some clubs are able to leave the course in situ but this is not possible on the river.
Course setting was quite straight forward when there were six competitors but now there is only one, Zac spends as much time lugging buckets of chain and anchors around as he does actually driving the RIB!
The Qualifying Heat is just a few week away on Saturday 28th June. The next round (fingers crossed!) is 19th July and the Final (dare we hope?) is the last day of the Southampton Boat Show.
Over the past months, Zac has been coached every week by David Oakman, RNLI crewman and 'D' class mechanic, who has been generous with his time and expertise - Zac could not have progressed without him. Incidentally, David also keeps his eye on the Otter Spotter RIBs so the Otters have a second reason to be grateful!
Zac could also do with some practical help....if there is anyone who could volunteer to help with the course laying on Tuesday evenings and Sunday afternoons, that offer would be greeted with enthusiasm. If you can offer some help, please contact Lynne Bikhazi on 01621 774681 or mobile 07740 103806. Thank you.