It is just the nature of the sport of boat racing.
Drivers savor the moment after a major championship but there is little opportunity to rest on their laurels.
Ogdensburg native Derec Smith is a case in point and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
On Oct. 19, he completed the long drive to his Oswego home from the Oct. 16-17 Lakeland, Fla. Regatta. He had clinched the American Power Boating Association High Points Championship in the E 350 Hydroplane Class for the Bad Influence Racing Team. The title came 11 years after he and Paul Barten combined to capture the prestigous Canadian Power Boating High Points title.
One day later Smith and his dad, Dave Smith of Ogdensburg, were tearing down the boat’s two engines as the start to a major overhaul.
The Lakeland Regatta course was set as a World Record venue and during the second heat on Saturday (Oct. 16) Bobby King pulled away from Smith to set a world record in 350 Hydro by three miles per hour.
Smith accumulated enough points in the Saturday heats to claim the High Points total but he wanted his season to finish on a fitting note.
“We ran the first heat with a new prop which didn’t do what we thought it would. It was way off. We went to another prop and it ran much better,” said Smith who finished the season with a 2600-2400 lead over Kurt Myers of Seattle, Wash.
“They told me we had the title but I wanted to win it on Sunday where there was just one heat, the finals. So we went out and won the finals with Jimmy King running second. The hardest thing about winning the APBA High Points title is that you have to race from coast to coast to get to enough races. Jeff Bernard, who drove our Grand Prix boat to the points title, drove the early 350 Hydro races out West which was really big and when we won the North American Championship in Owensboro, Ky. we got extra points.”
Smith and the Bad Influence Racing Team will be honored for their 350 Hydro and Grand Prix titles at the gala APBA National Convention in Orlando, Fla. on the third weekend of January. Derec Smith shared the title clinching his dad Dave Smith and his brother Dave Smith in the pits at Lakeland and then went home to celebrate with his wife Stacey and their daughters Murphy 17 and Abby 10.
The day after his return home Smith began the complete offseason overall for the boat. The overhaul will prepare the boat for an historic season for hydroplane racing in 2022.
“Next year will be really big. We are expecting to race our 350 in the new GP America circuit and race in some HRL (Hydroplane Racing League) events. We will be in more races than this year,” said Smith.
“Most of the races will offer APBA points so we are will definitely looking to repeat the title.”
Smith expressed his emotions in this message on his facebook page.
“Thank you Michael A Grendell and Julie Gamache Caler for letting me drive your amazing boat. John and Charlene MacDonald thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to travel all over the country to do what I love. A big thank you to my wife Stacey Murphy Smith for letting this big kid play😁 I Love You. To everyone that helped out this year I can’t thank you enough. We couldn’t do it without you. Dad thanks for the many hours traveling together and working/sweating your butt off. 😳😱😜
To the Greatest sponsors RSTZ, EMS,H8 cancer, and Reditoo. Thank you.”
The overhaul for next season will involve the boat’s two engines taken to the engine shop in Burlington, Vt. In two weeks the boat’s body will be taken to Bert Henderson’s shop in Brockville, Ont. for repairs and then moved on to the paint shop in Valleyfield, Que.
All that work must be completed by February when further mechanical repairs, including the installation of a new wing system, will be done in Massachusetts.
Then it is on to Florida for testing and the beginning a new season.
And another great ride.