Million Dollar Run set

It’s pretty easy to pick out people who have a need for speed. They talk fast, rush a lot and typically have a breathless manner.

Not the case with Andreas Ugland, Sr. The owner, and decorated racer, of the internationally-renowned European championship team, Ugland Offshore Racing, has an easy manner and a tendency never to rush conversation. Little do most people know, that twinkle in his eye has about 2,000 horsepower behind it and a long legacy of championship speed.

Ugland resides part of each year in the Cayman Islands, where he is Chairman of Queensgate Bank and Trust. Whilst here, he drives the Seven Mile strip every morning in his sedan, goes to work and comes home to a house full of kids and his wife Natalie. Ranging in age from 11 to 23, Ugland counts some of his happiest times when Andreas Jr., 23, Indrid, 21, Nikolai, 16, and 11-year-old ‘Little’ Natalie, are home from school and taking the house for themselves.

Away from the Cayman Islands, Ugland heads up Ugland Offshore Racing, amongst his other interests. He also apparently has a habit of capturing some of the world’s most illustrious off-shore racing titles.

Throughout the international racing communities, Ugland has become a name synonymous with commitment and technical excellence. It’s hard to believe that it all started in a six horsepower catamaran.

But that’s where it did. Andreas grew up around small boats on the south coast of Norway and his interest in boats started when he was a small boy. He entered his first race at the tender age of 15.

‘My first boat was actually homemade,’ laughs Andreas. ‘It was an eight-footer catamaran with a six horsepower mercury engine which I built together with my grandfather.

‘Unfortunately, it was short lived, as it flipped over two months later.’

Moments like that have been few and far between for Andreas. At the age of 30, Andreas founded Ugland Offshore Racing with partner Jann Hillestad.

The team went on to capture World, European and National titles and is regularly a favourite to reach the podium at the world’s top races. The company’s legacy now stretches back 20 years in the offshore racing world. Oh, and Andreas eventually graduated up from the eight-foot catamaran. His last purchase was a 40 ft. catamaran with 2,000 horsepower and a speed of 160 miles per hour. Just slightly faster.

In co-founding the local powerboat race Million Dollar Run, Andreas says he and founder Kenny Rankin were inspired by Cayman’s seafaring heritage.

‘The idea came from a conversation I had with Kenny Rankin, which I remember with fondness,’ Andreas said. ‘We talked about the yearly Easter Regatta held at Seven Mile-Beach and that it would be a great idea to revive a race in Cayman, considering we all know the association Caymanian people have with the sea. We were particularly eager to create awareness of safety at sea while still enjoying the moment.’

Million Dollar Run had its inaugural race in 2001 and has grown exponentially since then; coming to encompass a slew of events including concerts, galas and even an art show.

Andreas uses his own favourite international race as a basic model for Million Dollar Run and that’s the Class 1 World Powerboat Championships, held annually in his hometown of Arendal, Norway. In 2007, two lucky people from Cayman will win an all-expenses paid trip for two to the race to see the action up close.

On Million Dollar Run Race Day, souvenir tee-shirts will be available for a cost of $10 per shirt. All proceeds from the sale will go directly to Million Dollar Run’s official charity for 2007 Junior Achievement. Each purchaser will be given a wrist band with a serial number. Following the race, one lucky winner will be randomly chosen and will win the luxurious trip.

Andreas’ hopes for Million Dollar Run are simple. He wishes it to continue its growth and to be an event ‘people want to be a part of’. He also sends out some important advice to people interested in racing the course, which envelopes the Northwest side of the island.

‘Double and triple check your mechanical and safety equipment before every race,’ he emphasizes. ‘Do not leave a stone untouched! To successfully win a race, besides yourself being a competent driver, you need a well-prepared craft.’

If you’re looking for Andreas on a typical weekend, chances are you won’t find him torpedoing through Cayman’s waters in his 40-foot wave monster, or racing down Seven Mile Beach in a supped-up sports car. Most likely, he will be with his family riding in their unassuming pleasure boat ‘Windy’ up to Rum Point or Kaibo for ‘a tasty mudslide’.

This speed demon prefers to leave the speed where it belongs; on the water.

Catch Andreas on the water with the Ugland Offshore Racing team this Monday at Million Dollar Run Race Day. The fun starts at Kaibo at 12pm sharp. Log onto www.mdr.ky for ferry times from Safehaven and further details.

MDR EVENT SCHEDULE

Captain’s Meeting and Cocktail Reception, tonight 6.30pm, at the Ritz-Carlton-Grand Cayman Lobby Lounge. Attendance is required by all Captains and teams. Final registration opportunity

Million Dollar Moonlit Gala Evening, this Friday, 7pm. Tickets $175 including four course meal and wine pairings at the Periwinkle Restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton. RSVP required

Belvedere Ice Palace Kick-off Bash, this Friday, 12.01am at the Next Level Nightclub.

Million Dollar Run Art Exhibition. Nautical art by Cayman fine artists, this Saturday, from 7pm, at the Morgan Gallery in Galleria Plaza.

Race Day, this Monday, from 12pm at Kaibo Yacht Club. Check-in: 11am, Race start: 12pm. Ferry runs from Safehaven dock throughout the afternoon. Call 949-8423 for times

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