In memory of Annie
I am Annie Beakhust and I have been asked to write a history of O.R.D.A. So here goes!.......
My knowledge of O.R.D.A. starts in 1979, when Robbie started racing in Class III 1.3 litre. He sent me along to a meeting to find out what was going on and I was met at the door by Peter Armstrong, who relieved me of £5 and said I was now a Member! There were 33 others. Peter Armstrong was Chairman, his wife Jan was Secretary and they were very successful racers in 'Brut' sponsored by Faberge. The Committee included David Allenby and Howard Wretham at that time, and O.R.D.A. was truly an association of drivers - not organising any races then. But in the early 80's, the Armstrongs had O.R.D.A. put on a race at Brighton, which included a spectacular boat parade along the front. In the late 80's, O.R.D.A. hosted racing at Fowey thanks to Faberge sponsorship and UKOBA used to run a national race out of Brixham, but then they pulled out of Torbay as a venue. The members of O.R.D.A. so much liked racing there that they decided to run the Torbay event themselves. "The Torbay Classic" was born. The Armstrongs were still competing, and I like many others was rowed in to help with the running of the event. Hilary Chitty ran Race Control and proved an excellent teacher. Rob started on his 'official' ladder as a marshal!
In 1990, Rob and I were summoned to an O.R.D.A. Committee meeting.....and left as the new Chairman and Secretary! He stated "We'll keep working for all our Membership to improve the sport and the status of this Association within it." The accounts showed 8 paid up members, all paying different standing order amounts and there was £15 in the bank. O.R.D.A. ran 2 events, with Weymouth added to Torquay as 2 of the 15 national heats, best 10 results to count. Soon, there were about 60 members; subscription was £20. And I started the O.R.D.A. Newsletter.
In 1991, our mid-season Drivers' Forum discussed and/or formulated a new national points system, an official Appeal procedure, the new 207 canopy rules, a new concept for a Class I World series, more engine checks, novice identification, lifting eyes/strops, the cube rules, new water deflectors, and an O.R.D.A. drivers' rep at all events. We had donated £500 to the fund for Brass Wilcockson's family after his tragic death at Allhallows and supported their benefit basic race for Clive Jones who was badly injured in another racing accident. This was the year of fog in Torbay, when several boats in the Cowes>Torquay ran into the rocks - resulting in months of QC inquiry and recriminations - and giving O.R.D.A. a terrible time trying to convince the Torbay authorities to let us continue with the Torbay Classic. Pete Little & Dave Arthur became 1.3 World Champions; Geoff Purves & Dave Andrews won 4 litre Europeans; and Richard Carr in Cougar Lamborghini was Class I National champion.
In 1992, Jonathan Lucas and Peter Marenghi had joined the Committee and the Newsletter started reports on every event, adding a running table of national points supplied by Eileen Bloomfield, with venues including Pwllheli, Hull, Wirral, Newhaven, London>Calais>London, Swansea, Guernsey as well as our Torquay and Weymouth events. Tony Jenvey & Eric Braithwaite took the 2 litre Worlds in Carryfast and Neil Holmes & Jim Cox in Mac Tools took the 4 litre World title. Wretham & Mike Bellamy with Dag Pike went Round Britain in 44 hours 3 minutes, the Drambuie Scarab nearly halving the previous record. O.R.D.A. decided that Class III should have some decent perpetual trophies for their national championship which were awarded at the London Boat Show - Lorne Campbell, John Clarke and Glyn Grayson kindly came up with the goods - and these trophies are still awarded today.
The Newsletter had become the hub of O.R.D.A. Not only race reports - but news on rule proposals, new equipment, pit gossip, racing politics, calendar updates, adverts, advice, forthcoming events both sporting and social, and lots of pictures. It had proved easier to get the Torbay party sponsored than the event itself, with Mike Slack's Stuart Fyfe insurance brokerage paying the £400 costs for the next 6 years, each team entered receiving 2 free4 tickets.
At the 1993 A.G.M. held at the Ibis Hotel near Heathrow, Eric Braithwaite and Robin Parrish became Committee Members; race entries were down as was sponsorship, but O.R.D.A. still made a profit of 550, bringing the club's reserves to £3600. A basket stretcher was purchased for safety, which has been maintained since and is still on duty at races today. We had nearly 100 Members who voted for better trophies rather than start money and noted: "We need some lateral thinking to increase the razzamatazz into a visual spectacle." At the UIM, our members' work on rule proposals came to fruition - inboards could continue to race in Class III but GPS was still not allowed, and the maximum beam was binned - Yes, our opinions were actually sought and acted on at international level! Mike Slack as OOD was forced to cancel the Torquay race in gale force 7+ but the free food at the party was great! And Adam Younger with Alan Green became the 2 litre Euro Champs in Hairline at Poole. Anne Robinson's 1.3 Worlds at AYC had 22 entries from 7 nations, won by Swedes in Tintorera with Commodore Ferries and City Offshore 2nd & 3rd. This was a party year! O.R.D.A.'s advice became: Be fast....be wise....be safe....be sober....be warned!
1994 - the Bellamys retire as Nat. Champ. sponsors and Charles Burnett III takes up the mantle - 10 events with best 9 results to count. O.R.D.A. dropped the Weymouth race, but the Torbay Classic celebrated the 70th anniversary of powerboat racing in Torbay (the 1924 race had officials from the Royal Motor and Royal Torbay Yacht Clubs, and the Duke of York arrived in a special train to fire the starting cannon and present the solid gold cup.) Lord Montague of Beaulieu, whose father had been the OOD, sent O.R.D.A. a marvellous letter of good wishes. Alan Webb gave O.R.D.A. the hugely beautiful "Anniversary Cup", awarded to the boat who beats the 2nd in class by the highest average speed and therefore open to all classes - won by David & Chris Allenby in Assagai. Richard Ridout was OOD, Richard Salaman took over in Safety, Alan Layton's disco at the 'Titanic' party with Iceburg punch! And a Sunday morning BREATHALIZER!! With 27 entries, a superb race followed, covered by BBC Southwest and Meridian TV with live coverage on BBC Plymouth and Exeter Radio and many pages of newspaper reports - what a success and it recorded a £15 profit over costs of £5500 thanks to John Miller's sponsorship!! The Newsletter boasted reports from the Euros in Italy, Class II & 6 litre in Dubai, the Martini Enduro series and the Key West 'Worlds'! Our membership was now 128, and at our August Drivers' Forum, there were so many people that all of them could not get into the room. Rule proposals were debated, hand held VHF radios had to be waterproof after Roy Smith's soggy incident in the Solent, rescue to be within 30 minutes of an incident which had no injuries involved. The infamously rough Hartlepool 4 litre Worlds were won by Neil Holmes and Jim Cox in Dubai Craft by just 4ft!
1995 saw new rules on mandatory protective clothing and 6 litre multihull canopies. 207 dunk tests now included the sub-aqua factor and the RYA licence cost went up to 150. Race competitors were down on numbers but big on size and hype with the Burnett, John Miller and Colin Stoneman roadshows. Incredibly, the RMYC Cancel Research Basic with an OCR heat had the greatest number of entries - 78 in all! RIBs joined the fleet and in Torbay we had 28 teams. With many huge rigs scrambling for space, it was more than the usual chaos. The St. Trinian's party was an absolute hoot, proved by the framed photo of 'the Class of '95' which still hangs in the RTYC today! O.R.D.A. had a new perpetual trophy in memory of Tony Needell - the godfather of powerboat racing - awarded for the fastest lap in 2 litre. Roy Smith & Adrian Carter were the 1st winners, with the 1.3 team of Ian Cutler & Laurence Bellamy taking the Anniversary Cup on a pretty rough weather course. 50,000 spectators watched the very first Littlehampton event - a fleet of 5 Class II and Production Cruisers joining the town's Regatta in a demonstration basic. All the admin was conducted on board Cliff Smith's floating restaurant - the notorious Seahorse - aided by the indefatigable Nick Boffee. The Pirate Party was heaving ! Littlehampton Council gave a huge silver perpetual cup to the winner - Martin Mansbridge in On Line Racing. Colin Stoneman & Mark Bridges in Maxi Mailing went on to win the 4 litre Worlds and John Miller & Adrian Jardine's All Of A Quiver took the 6 litre title in Norway. The Watts Brothers in the 2 litre Alexi and the Charles Burnett/Peter Dredge Class II team in Buzzi Buzzard became Worlds Champions at Cowes - a brilliant year for the Brits, and all members of O.R.D.A. for just £25 ! The reserve account reached £5000+
1996 - O.R.D.A. continued as a major voice at RYA Committee meetings on rules, definitions, safety, and race organisation matters, fighting hard against rising RYA costs. The club's 6-Pack were funded for more safety kit to help with injuries. Peter Marenghi and Geoff Purves were now on the committee for the Alton A.G.M. and we were asked if we could run the 2 litre worlds. Nice offer, but we declined! But we did assist the BBC TV team making 'The Power and the Glory' doco starring Charles and Cliffy. Voted the best race venue for the last 3 years, we had 27 entries for the Torbay Classic, but the weather was so foul that 4 didn't get there. Ridout, our OOD, was now President of the UIM and he called a special Drivers' Forum on the future of classes and escalating costs. We used the breathalizer again at Briefing after the Wild West party - all passed OK. Despite storms followed by fog, we got a race - short-lived for Buzzi Buzzard with its world-famous barrel roll. The Anniversary Cup went to Jon Fuller & Tony Davis in Team Extreme; Peter Little & Dave Arthur's City Offshore won the Tony Needell Speed Cup. The Littlehampton Regatta was now a fully fledged basic for all classes and 19 teams entered. The Hawaiian Party on the Seahorse was hilarious and the 45 mile race next day was truly exciting for OOD Mike Bellamy and Safety's James Cox with Class I boats mixing it with OCR craft. Jon Fuller & John Burden's Team Extreme won the silver cup. Peter Wilson won the Wilkinson Sword of Achievement at UKOBA and the 1.3 Euros in Quiberon, where 6 racers were drug tested - 2 failed!
1997 - The RYA added a levy to race entry fees; O.R.D.A.'s subscription remained at £25 as we had £6600 in the bank. Ian Cutler replaced Peter Marenghi on the committee. There were just 8 heats to the National Championship and O.R.D.A. negotiated prize money at every event for the 2 litre class from Burnett to counteract the start of his new Offshore 2000 series for monohulls. Gordon Wright builds Watts' first Ice boat and Ocke Mannerfelt the first bat boat. Race entries were sadly down by 30% at the start of the season, so the O.R.D.A. message was "Let's get started before the season is over - or kiss good-bye to the sport that we all love!" For the 3rd time in 4 years, it blew a hooley in Torbay. OOD Mike Windsor got together with the local authorities, who co-operated, saying "No other boaters are mad enough to go out in this, so it's all yours!" We had a media circus of 5 TV crews, 2 radio stations and journalists galore. Offshore 2000 had 8 starters in a force 6 - the course was 24 X 2.5 mile laps, curtailed after 11. Pete & Dave in City Offshore won at 46mph. This year's party theme was Vicars & Tarts - it was outrageous! Reg Bates' brokerage took up the sponsorship. The national Torbay Classic had 19 starters doing 12 laps on a 6 mile course. Roger Severy in T97 received the Anniversary Cup presented by Alan Webb. The Tony Needell trophy went to City Offshore again, Pete Little & Dave Arthur going on to gain the 2 litre Worlds in Guernsey two weeks later. The mother of an 18 year old asked if O.R.D.A. could help with a surprise birthday present for son Adam. On the podium, he was asked to chose between a massage from the Vulture Venture's babes or a ride in a raceboat - he went for the ride of his life in Roy Smith's Commodore Ferries! Littlehampton's reputation for brilliant weather for the Regatta held good and we enjoyed the Marina marquee and bar. The 21 starters under OOD Mike Windsor's control included a 6 litre, a Harrier jump-jet pilot and an American in an OCR Marshan. Everyone wanted to come and play at this really fun basic event with a battle between us on our parade and the local 'pirate' boats in the River Arun. The race was allowed to race just off the beach for the thousands of spectators. Not surprisingly, Dubai Craft won the Regatta Cup and Electrifying was 1st in Sportsboat class. The event made a £900 profit for O.R.D.A. At the Cowes 4 litre Worlds, Neil Holmes & Jim Cox won their 6th World title in Talley Medical. And Mike Spinks joined the O.R.D.A. committee.
1998 - O.R.D.A. had 140 members , the vast majority of which were active competitors, including new Class II World Champ Ken Thorne. The subs went up to £30. The RYA reduced licence costs to £165 but put more increases on clubs' charges. They also formed the scrutineering Hit Squad, checking con rods etc. The 207 rules became the 508 canopy rules, and talk started on new 'green' engines. After an O.R.D.A. Questionnaire/survey of race venues, the RYA agreed 7 national heats, all results to count. But even this sunny summer did not entice teams to enter races. In Torquay, the event was run by Mike & Sally Windsor; safety was in James Cox's hands. Offshore 2000 fielded 13 starters in their 2nd season. Little & Arthur led from start to finish. The Classic had 16 entries and raced up to Teignmouth. Peter Berrow & Shelley Jory's Revenger were awarded the Anniversary Cup, with Guernseyman Stevie Nicolle winning the Tony Needell Speed Cup despite finishing 2nd behind Roy Smith. A fine Littlehampton event, again supported by Cunningham Marine. 15 started the race, won by Agitator's Rory Power & Debra France. Steve Curtis won the Class I Worlds. And O.R.D.A. got 4 litre canopied boats grandfathered on 207 rules for national racing until end of 2000. By the end of this year, we had made a profit of over £2000, with funds now standing at over £9000.
1999 - Mike Spinks started the first O.R.D.A. website and the RYA Awards moved to Bournemouth. Minimum ages dropped from 18 to 17 & 16 in smaller classes. At our A.G.M., we discussed the sport's problems and declining interest., Rory stating that all clubs and competitors should get together to sort out their differences. The sport needed total co-ordination and co-operation. Several events were cancelled due to lack of entries, only 5 heats making up the national championships - but then Honda came on the scene. In the run up to their first race with O.R.D.A. at Torquay, I was dealing with more companies than Honda had boats! We held a Toga Party with Alan Layton on disco still - a lot of hotel bedsheets went missing that year! The Torbay Classic had 16 entries including Thunderboats, 2 starts and again ran up to Teignmouth. Chris Bryan & Alan Weal had the fastest 2 litre lap before they were DQ'd and were awarded the Tony Needell Cup. Peter Little & Pat Mohan in the 1.3 City Offshore II took the Anniversary Cup again. And Mike Spinks won his first 2 litre national with Mark Bridges. Notwithstanding the general decline, Littlehampton fielded 30 starters. After Mike Windsor's sudden sad death, I became OOD and ordered 2 starts - it was a hell of a parade down the Arun! City Offshore took the silver Regatta Trophy and Mark Porter the magnificent new perpetual trophy for 'best presented'. Bad news from Italy - Sarah Donohue had had a terrible crash and we sent flowers to her in the Italian Intensive Care Unit. The Good news was Pete & Dave won the 2 litre Euros. They then took the Worlds at Cowes, with John Hampton & Simon Fletcher winning the Class II Euros. And our member Geoff Pinches completed 30 years as timekeeper.
2000 and offshore was on the up! O.R.D.A. had over 150 members, subs were held at £30, Adam Younger joined the Committee, we had 10,000 in the bank and the Chairman married the Secretary in Las Vegas!! The National Series was formed with new rules and with each of 5 organising clubs having one national event with finals.....in Gibraltar, all travel paid for after some major work at the RYA. Dave & Chris Allenby won the Outboard Class II Worlds in Australia in February. Torquay actually made a profit with 44 entries including the 3 subdivisions of Class III, Production Cruisers, RIBs, the new V-24 and Honda. Force 6 winds shortened the course and the massed start was filmed by helicopter. Jamie Edwards won the Anniversary Cup in RIB Bad Influence, and the Tony Needell Cup went to back to Pete & Dave again, as did the 2 litre Worlds in Viareggio. O.R.D.A. donated £100 to the MacMillan Charity at the RM's race. Another hot and sunny weekend at Littlehampton but only 13 teams entered. The Council gave us a huge new silver Regatta Cup and Cliff Smith donated a smashing gold coloured perpetual cup for Index of Performance. This was awarded to Chairman Rob & Martin Purnell in Electrifying, the Regatta Cup won overall by Peter Berrow in Revenger. Terry Mills proudly took the Concours trophy.
2001 - Rob and I resigned after 10 years of running O.R.D.A. and Howard Wretham retired with us after some 20 years of service as Treasurer and ORC delegate. Debra France, Shirley Simpkins and Chris Bryan were voted in, Robin Parish took over as Chairman with Sally Windsor as Secretary and Mike Spinks as Treasurer and the O.R.D.A. Newsletter was in colour. The new team was now in charge and I leave it to them to complete the more recent History of O.R.D.A.