Blazen driver Noel Griffin, left, will help defend his team’s Bridge to Bridge champion status tomorrow despite suffering severe burns when the boat caught alight earlier this year. He is pictured here after last year’s win in a record time of 36 minutes, 56 seconds with team mates Grant Turner, Chris Stout and Bernie Simpson.
Blazen driver Noel Griffin, left, will help defend his team’s Bridge to Bridge champion status tomorrow despite suffering severe burns when the boat caught alight earlier this year. He is pictured here after last year’s win in a record time of 36 minutes, 56 seconds with team mates Grant Turner, Chris Stout and Bernie Simpson.

Blazen by name, nature

AS far as high-octane sports go, driving a superclass boat at speeds in excess of 190kmh is not for the faint-hearted.

Just ask Noel Griffin, the driver of the last Grafton Bridge to Bridge winner, Blazen.

In April this year Griffin was lucky to escape a close shave when his boat, Blazen, ironically burst into flames during the Southern 80 ski race held on the Murray River.

Griffin, who leaped out of his burning boat, was taken to Victoria's Alfred Hospital after suffering severe burns to 20 per cent of his body.

Blazen was a strong favourite to win the main event and got off to a roaring start, leading Hellrazor by 12 seconds before the boat was engulfed with flames.

The speedboat champion driver and his crew will be out to win back-to-back titles this weekend after setting a Bridge to Bridge race record in January this year with a startling time of 36min 50sec.

In near-perfect conditions, Blazen finished ahead of Top Gun and Strike Force, with arch-rival Hellrazor being disqualified.

The driver of Hellrazor, Mark Cranny, said Blazen would go into tomorrow's race as red-hot favourite.

"Noel and his team are certainly in form at the moment," Cranny told the Examiner yesterday.

"In actual fact, Noel won the world championships held at Moreton Bay just two weeks ago.

"They should be outright favourites to win the event but we'll be out there on the water giving it our best shot."

For Cranny and his crew, being disqualified from the Bridge to Bridge earlier in the year was not one of his better moments in his racing career.

"It was just one of those things and it was very embarrassing," Cranny said. "We were positioned on the wrong side of the starting boat and I can tell you it won't happen again."

Cranny and his team have dominated the winner's podium this year, taking the Southern 80 and the Mildura 100 in a time of 31min 27sec, breaking the previous record by three seconds.



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