Dunker Test Reminds Powerboat Drivers Of Safety - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

04/22/05

Dunker Test Reminds Powerboat Drivers Of Safety

The powerboats have arrived for South Mississippi's second running of Smokin' the Sound. Friday was registration day, and dunker testing day.

Every driver in this weekend's boat races had to visit the Biloxi Natatorium and take a refresher course in boater safety.

It reminds drivers what to do if their vessels flip over while they're racing across the Mississippi Sound.

Last year a boat did flip during practice, and Randy Linebach died.

Tony Fitzgerald is one of the Offshore Super Series rescue divers. And he's one of the men responsible for this safety training exercise.

"It's important for them to be comfortable in an atmosphere that is controlled, so that when there is an accident and chaos, they are able to feel controlled."

Rick Turmel is way too familiar with powerboat mishaps. He flipped over during last year's OSS world championships.

"Amazed it happened. Thought it would never happen to me because I've been racing so long and it never happened."

While underwater, Turmel instinctively remembered the dunker test.

"All the years of doing the dunker like this made it so easy. So when it did happen at 100 mph, I just reacted. I didn't have to think about it."

This test is not new. Racers are required to pass it two times a year. The first test just happened to be held at the same Biloxi race where one year ago, an accident killed Randy Linebach.

"It was always done. It's always been done. Things like that reiterate the need for it."

Fitzgerald said. The Offshore Super Series will be awarding a team spirit award at the end of this weekend's races. The award is named for the late Randy Linebach.

by Brad Kessie

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