As the leaders dashed off the Banks onto the indigo deeps of Northwest Providence Channel approaching Nassau, Hanks' Blonde II was slightly ahead of Balestrieri's Black Tornado. Behind them Wishnick and Silvera were standing on their props and dueling fiercely. Earlier, at Gun Cay, Silvera had used his knowledge of Bahamian waters to cut a few precious feet from the course. In the critical moments at Nassau the real meat of his strategy became apparent.
Balestrieri led the way into Nassau harbor to refuel, losing first place momentarily to Wishnick. But Bill failed even to make it back out of the harbor as his engines conked out. With the other boats pitted for fuel, the canny Silvera hightailed it for Governor's Harbor at Eleuthera with a lead of some 8� minutes over Balestrieri, who in turn led young Dr. Magoon. Silvera was running on little but fumes by the time he reached his hoses. He had estimated fuel consumption so closely that Starduster arrived with just six gallons in her tanks. Since the engines gulp gas at the rate of 76 gallons an hour, he was cutting it ever so fine.
It took Silvera just six minutes to fill up but more precious seconds to refasten a power-steering unit that had thrown its bolts. On came Balestrieri; out roared Silvera. Fine strategy had worked finely; the Bahamian had a nifty two-minute lead as his yellow hull threaded the needle at Current Cut, a narrow slot near Eleuthera's easternmost point.
Along the course, attrition was making inroads. Gone was Roger Hanks after a frightful havoc caused by a towel blowing into one of Blonde II's engines and knocking it out. Screaming on past Hole in the Wall, Silvera still had two minutes on Balestrieri—and Mark Raymond was nervously looking back over his shoulder for glimpses of the swinging Italian. Then suddenly Balestrieri slowed down and it seemed that Magoon, still third, might have a shot at the flying Bahamian. Just as abruptly as he had lost speed, however, Balestrieri got Black Tornado back up on a plane and resumed the stern chase—only to pack it all in moments later. With a great roar his engines blew, opening a hole in the hull and ending one race but starting another—to keep the boat afloat. This he and his crew managed to do.
Now Starduster's men got a fright A fuel pump on one of the MerCruisers quit functioning. Raymond did not fix it as you or I might have done. He didn't kick the damned thing; he switched instead to an auxiliary system. Silvera received a further shock when his wife Pat flew over in the family's twin-engined plane and made a signal which he interpreted as "third overall." Then, to her horror, when she reached the Lucayan Marina just after the race's end, she found Magoon's boat tied up but not the Starduster. Where was Douggie? Cruising up and down near the start-finish line in a state of pure joy, that's where
"Don't drive on the streets tonight, mon," warned one ecstatic islander. "There going to be a lot of crazy people around here."
And so there were.