Racing eventually got underway at 5pm on Monday, seven hours later than planned because of the inclement weather conditions.
Three-time UIM F1 H2O World Champion Philippe Chiappe checked out the course before the green light was given. The early minutes developed into a two-way tussle between Chiappe’s Nollet-New Star entry and Team Abu Dhabi.
After 40 minutes, both crews had completed 21 laps and the French boat was running 2.962 seconds in front of the entry from the ADIMSC. Tullio Abbate’s Principato di Seborga (5) and Team Privilege (25) were on the same lap and 4.799 seconds and 7.33 seconds adrift of the leader. Team New Star-Nollet (20) lost time with air bag issues, while Navikart (32) also lost laps with technical issues. The gap between the top two boats was up to 12.4 seconds at the end of the first hour and boats 5 and 25 were still running on the same lap.
Only Nollet by New Star and Team Abu Dhabi were running on the same lap at the two-hour mark and the gap was just 5.24 seconds after 68 laps of the course, but Thani Al-Qemzi was penalised for hitting a turn buoy in the third hour and Team Abu Dhabi slipped down to sixth position, with Xtrem Racing (26) now up to second place and running five laps behind the long-term leaders. The Touax Pegase Racing Team (8) was up to third place.
There were further woes for Team Abu Dhabi in the fourth hour of the race when the DAC collected some debris around the propeller and had to be towed back to the pits. Nollet by New Star duly completed 142 laps and was running 12 tours in front of Xtrem Racing and 17 in front of boat eight. Team Abu Dhabi was down in seventh.
We picked up some cloth or some upholstery from a couch and it stopped the engine.
It wrapped around the prop at rhe farthest possible place from the pits and we had to get towed in and lost 25 laps. Thani hit or missed two buoys and that was another eight laps of penalties.
Rashed (Al-Qemzi) and Rashed (Al-Tayer) were recovering slowly and I took over for the last one and a half of the session.
Team Abu Dhabi began to close in on their rivals in the dark and a sterling fight back by the team enabled the DAC to finish session one in third position 32 laps behind Team Nollet by New Star 1 and nine behind Team Nollet by New Star 20. Team Marine inshore 28 were fourth and Xtrem Racing rounded off the top five.
I guess we were in a pretty good spot at the end of the night session.
There were a lot of logs in the river and I hit one about seven or eight laps into the stint.
I did a little damage and kept going but it was an ill-handling boat.
The 20 boat hit the same log I hit and went in to change to gear case.
He could not so he was waiting until the morning to change it.
The 1 boat, with 13 minutes to go, blew over.
They had a lot of work to do in the morning.
The second half of the 24 Hours of Rouen resumed at 07.00hrs on Tuesday morning and finishes at 16.00hrs.
Photos: Chris Davies