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Race row pair are banned by BPBA

Bitter rivals Tonka Simpson and Stephen DeSilva have landed themselves in hot water with Bermuda Powerboat Association (BPBA).

Association Commodore Brian Smith has confirmed that both pilots have been suspended for two-races for their involvement in a heated row that erupted at Ferry Reach during this month's Around the Island Race.

DeSilva and his fellow team mates are alleged to have surrounded Simpson's boat to prevent him from leaving the scene after he had been accused of racing with an illegally modified engine block.

“From what I was made to understand some of the Point Mart members went down and blocked Tonka's boat and told him he's not allowed to leave the premesis because they were protesting,” said Smith.

“But they are not allowed to do that because any protest needs to come from the executive committee and under no circumstances is a member allowed to block a boat in because they are filing a protest.

“Members of Point Mart also acted in an ungentlemanly-like manner when they were being presented with the trophy (for second place) at the prize presentation, which also didn't sit well with the committee.”

Simpson, who captured FB class honours and finished third overall in this year's Around the Island Race, had sanctions imposed on him for his rant aimed at race officials in response to the protest submitted by his senior rival.

“When Tonka was approached about the protest he got very irate and acted in an ungentlemanly-like manner and unfortunately it was done in public,” Smith said. “And the committee was very upset because we had our sponsors there watching what unfolded and have received a few phone calls from people that are not happy.

“We are constantly trying to push to get more sponsors and we cannot do it if we have our members acting in an unorderly manner. So we felt it was important that something be done to protect the image of the club, which is growing, because we don't want to mess that up.”

Smith stressed that unruly behaviour by members will not be tolerated during his watch.

“In any sport when you do wrong you get punished and so we are not any different,” he added.

“We are trying to keep this a family-oriented sport and unsportmanslike behaviour is not going to be accepted by the association.

“We just want to let them know that we didn't take what they did too lightly because we want all members to conduct themselves in a gentlemanly-like manner.”

Both Simpson and DeSilva were given 14 days to appeal against their suspensions from the time of being notified of the disciplinary action taken against them.

Simpson, whose 19-foot Phantom passed a post-race inspection to determine whether his engine block met race requirements, said he doesn't intend to appeal.

“I'm not appealing because I accept my punishment as there was a heated conversation that never should've happened,” he said.

DeSilva, who has contemplated retirement, declined to comment.

Controversy: Tonka Simpson's powerboat

Dear Sir,

As an avid powerboat racing fan, let me begin by first complementing Commodore Smith and his team on the marketing which they did in the lead up to this year's edition of the Around the Island Race.

Commodore Smith gave numerous interviews during the week of the race which raised the awareness even for the most casual observer. I thought the idea of having the race boats placed in strategic locations through out the island was a gem as well!

The only let down was the lack of radio commentary and I will assume that this was due to lack of funding during these trying economic times. This is the first time that I can recall there being no coverage of this entertaining event, however, my memory is not quite what it used to be!

I usually take in the race from a couple of different vantage points whilst tuning in to the radio coverage, however, this year's lack of coverage I decided to watch from the shores of Hamilton Parish before heading to Ferry Reach to witness the conclusion of the race. I wondered around the pits in awe looking at these machines thinking how far technology has brought powerboat racing.

Although I do not know the commodore, I spotted him and want to commend him on the fine job he had done in promoting the race.

I heard a very heated verbal spat in the pit of Tonka Simpson. Mr. Simpson then drove off with boat in tow. Listening further, I came to realize that there had been a protest lodged against Mr. Simpson and he had refused to have his boat inspected. I then closely followed the saga unfold in the next couple of days via your newspaper as well as the electronic media.

I know that your newspaper stated that Steven Desilva protested Mr. Simpson, I definitely heard at least one other camp say that they were protesting as well. I'm not privy to the information presented to the committee so I can not confirm this.

In my humbled opinion, as a race fan and fan only, as I have never been a member of the association. I have never raced or been a part of a racing team nor have I even taken the time to read an association rule book which I assume does exist.

However, I would like to consider my self a very logical thinker, and I know that what I witness was really an insult to the Powerboat Association.

In my logical thinking, as I see in NASCAR, a protested vehicle should be impounded until inspections are carried out. I also believe in transparency and the protester as well as the alleged cheat should be allowed to witness the inspection.

When Mr. Simpson left the pit with his boat that protest should have been immediately upheld and Mr. Simpson disqualified. There should have been no committee meeting to discuss anything because he took his boat before been inspected.

Mr. Simpson's actions will always hold a cloud of suspicion in my mind. I am not suggesting that Mr. Simpson cheated but I will say this, if I was driving under the influence and a police officer asked me to come tomorrow and take a sobriety test, there would be no charges filed against me!

I saw him at Ferry Reach later, and I was tempted to tell him that his actions ruined what appeared to be a very fine victory. To the committee, I hope that there was more to this saga than what I actually witnessed because if there wasn't, your inactions certainly done Mr. Desilva and his team grave disservice!


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Published August 25, 2011 at 10:00 am (Updated August 25, 2011 at 10:28 am)

Race row pair are banned by BPBA

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