Hurtling up the Orinoco river at 65 knots though virgin jungle and the lush Venezuelan countryside may sound like fun, but for the crew from Yacht Center Palma it was a very real adventure. Every year power boats and crews from all over the world take part in the Orinoco Rally and last year, Andy Leeman and Miguel Angel Hita from the Majorcan company represented Spain. A total of 127 power boats competed under extremely difficult conditions, it was the start of the rainy season so the air was thick and humid and full of mosquitoes, for the glory of winning the most difficult power boat race in the world. During the eight day race in the Orinoco basin, the course covered 2200 kilometres up 14 different rivers and the Yacht Center Palma crew, in co-operation with AB Inflatables Venezuela, challenged the field racing a specially prepared 8.40 metre inflatable with a rigid fibreglass hull fitted with two 200 horse power outboard engines capable of a maximum speed of 65 knots. Yacht Centre Palma finished in third place in its category of up to 600 horse power, with around 60 of the power boats failing to finish the gruelling race. However, the race is not just about power. It involves artful navigation, sound logistics and highly professional equipment. The race is also physically demanding and each crew has to be self sufficient, carrying sufficient supplies on board and prepared to bed down in the jungle over night while negotiating the rough terrain and dealing with the local tribes. The 28th rally, organised as part of a Venezuelan-government sponsored initiative “Nuestra Rios son Navegables,” began in San Fernando de Apure. Day one was marked by torrential rain making navigating a windy course all the more difficult. But as the race developed, the weather improved, although the course remained as demanding and treacherous in parts with strong currents in some stretches and heavy waves whipped by the wind in others. But the experience was unforgetable and all the crews were able to relish in the rich landscape, the hospitable tribes which for many, the arrival of the annual power boat race was the highlight of their year and enjoy the typical and traditional food. Yacht Center Palma was also able to take its inflatables and equipment through their paces. The race ended in Puerto Ordaz and it was not until the final stage that the fleet was able to open up the throttles, many of the boats were only carrying the bare minimum with most of the provisions exhausted and were carrying little fuel, adding to a genuine race for the finish. But win or lose, for all the participants, it is the taking part in such an exciting adventure that is important.

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