Most definitely. Continuing glorious wea...
Most definitely. Continuing glorious weather drew thousands of spectators all the way from Eleebana, through Warners Bay, thence onto Speers Point, and also back at both the start/finish line and pit area located at Marmong Point. This certainly underscored the natural amphitheatre nature of the delightful Lake Macquarie.
Hovering around the pit area you did notice the inquisitive onlookers who all commented on how much they enjoyed on being able to get close to the boats and the teams alike.
Overnight, and even into the morning, many teams worked to repair/replace items so as to get back out racing. Shan Racing put a new drive shaft in one of their gearboxes, and Skater 28 corrected why a spark plug insisted on popping out at every opportunity.
Alas, it was the team spearheaded by Birthday Boy and engine builder, John Barbagallo, that extracted the totally blown motor in Superbad, swapped the left one over to the right hull as pumps and lines aligned more correctly, and then placed the ‘spare’ motor from fellow competitor, 222 Offshore Racing into the now vacant left hull that was the talking point of the day. What a great effort, and what wonderful sportsmanship, all round.
Now there were winners on the day, as indeed there were for the season overall, but it was perhaps the number and severity of issues out on the water that added drama and quick recalculations to some of the standings.
One of the crowd favourites, The Sting, actually put a connecting rod through the block in the first race of the day, thereby ensuring they would stay ashore for the rest of the day. In the last race of the day, 222 threw a blade off the right side propeller, which came off so violently it not only put a gash in the hull, it also bent a seriously thick steering plate and stainless steel bolt!
All of it served to make sure it was as exciting on shore as it was out on the water, where teams like Gigglin’ in the SuperSport 65 class did more than enough to secure the season win. Mark Sutherland said, “It’s a great feeling. Two years in a row. It’s pretty amazing. I hope we are ready for next year’s first round back in Victoria (Wyndham Harbour) in February because they’ll be coming for us. New boats, new set-ups, and with more horsepower… We’re going to stick with tried and true, but it will definitely be a challenge. Hope the wind blows and evens out the field.”
Andrew Pike from Slick 21 clearly wants to go one better for 2024 in SuperSport 65 after placing second this season. “We’re pretty happy with that. A bit disappointed today, as we were a bit behind the field, but we finished the race. We’ve got a new boat and motor to run for 2024, so we’ve got to get some time in the seat with that, but we should be good to go. Our eyes are on the top prize, that’s for sure.”
The Colonel has looked good all season in SuperSport 85, so despite being challenged a lot more at this final round at Lake Macquarie, they still grabbed the silverware. Jason Kelly said, “We’re a little bit undecided about the 2024 season, so we’ll see what’s going to happen as far as the northern Queensland races go, but we’ll certainly sort out what rounds we will be at anyway.”
“This will include the Melbourne races, and if potential sponsors or something like that want to come on board, we might be able to make our way up there. The boat’s going well, and we are stoked. Hats off to Jesse (King), as it was his first time getting in the boat this season, and he’s adapted to it really well. He’s turning that boat like a professional. I think we’ve got a very competitive boat and we’re where we want to be, so hopefully the future is good.”
Day Racer, Skater 28, may well turn into season participant for 2024, and some very good results at Lake Macquarie will have absolutely spurred them on to do so. The boat looked good all weekend. Aaron Panozza said, “Not sure if I can give all the credit to the boat or Dale (Sawkins), but we certainly had a good time out there.”
“Everything ran perfectly to plan, and we had some amazing racing out there with the Colonel boys. I do think our extra 200 horsepower sort of helps us get out of those corners just that little bit quicker, even though we’re all held back to 85 miles an hour. We did see a maximum from us of 83.5mph during one race, and are thrilled to have got two race wins from three starts.”
“We’d love to come down do a few more events. There’s a bit of a drive, but you know, it’s worth it. The Victorian Rounds are only a few weeks apart, and with a potential round at home on the Gold Coast, I think we should drive down, as they’ll drive up to us.”
Mixed emotions is the best way to describe The Sting camp. Yes they won the season, and circulated here at Lake Macquarie with new engines until they could no longer, so they are happy, but also know just how much work they have to do in order to get ready for next season now they have a broken motor, and there are supply issues.
Karl Wall said, “Yesterday we were super excited and high fiving at each other after ensuring the win, as this is a big deal. Then we thought let’s finish on a high, we’ll race on Sunday and win both races to really come home with the gold. Alas, that did not happen. On the fourth lap of the first race we became very sad puppies.”
“We really do thrive on the energy, especially of our fans, and we have given away more posters than ever to all of the kids, which is great. The love The Sting and the whole bee thing. It definitely helps with the motivation to get ready for 2024. We’ve got a lot of speed to find in this boat to get up with the Mantis now. They’ve really developed their engines really well.”
“So the next three or four months is going to be big for us. We are looking at Wyndham Harbour to take the first win like we did this year and continue the wins through the year just to show the dominance of the Hornet against the Preying Mantis”, said Wall highlighting the great banter between the two teams.
In Supercat Extreme, crowd pleaser, Superbad, finished out their rookie season so well, after such sorrow the day before. So it was good to see Superbad perform a victory lap to finish the day and season out.
Steve Jellick commented afterwards, “It’s been a long season. A lot of work. A lot of heartbreaks and fails. Despite all of it, the sportsmanship shown by 222 is fantastic, and we love it.”
Superbad’s own trials and tribulations after securing a boat that had sat for a while include repairing manifolds, cleaning out fuel tanks, and a list as long as your arm, but no matter what, there they have been come the start of each round.
“There’s still a lot of work to do, but we’re getting the boat to some sort of spot that we want it to be, and all the smaller stuff is becoming more reliable. Now we just need to get some good power into it, and then hopefully we’ll be away. They should be here by Christmas, which will give us a bit of time to set the boat up with the new gearing and everything.”
“Ryan (Coleman) just loves it. He has learned so much over the year, and is just driving better and better all the time.”
There can be no doubt that 222 Offshore Racing are one very polished team, and so very sporting in their endeavours. To take home both Supercat Extreme and the Class One Championships is a mark of that, and it comes only a month after securing the World title, as well.
Darren Nicholson may not have liked not finishing the last race, but categorically enjoyed racing on home waters. “It is very nice to have the finale here at the Lake, the place where I grew up. It’s a fabulous venue, and the crowds love it. There was music around the place, there were some old cars, but it’s hard to beat a little bit of noise, and these boats certainly deliver that.”
“Today, we started off with five blades (on the propeller), we came in with four, and after presentations here, we end up with three on the wonderful Australian Class One Championship trophy. We were surprised the prop broke, as it’s only six races old, which is a bit frustrating.”
David Randall from Empire Marina said, “We do look forward to having the Superboats here. It’s always a juggle to free up the space, but everyone is so professional, which was highlighted by the way 222 lent Superbad a motor to keep the show alive. Wonderful stuff. It demonstrates what sort of people are involved in this sport. They want everyone on the water, and we want to help showcase this great lake.”
The Offshore Superboat Championship would like to thank Lake Macquarie City Council, NSW Maritime, Wilson Lifts, and Empire Marina, and we do very much look forward to being back here in October of 2024.
Further information, pictures and videos at superboat.com.au
Absolutely so. It was both close and interesting as mechanical issues plagued many a craft, and fortunes were won and lost out on the track. Exactly as it should be…
Councillor Adam Shultz, attended Friday evening’s meet and greet held at Empire Marina at Marmong Point, and very much immersed himself in the experience. Speaking at the event, he said, “It’s fantastic to see everyone here again. I believe the event’s been running for seven years now, since 2016.”
“Lake Macquarie City Council is really proud to continue to support it. If I had my way, it would be indefinite support. It’s just wonderful to see all the visitors, the activity and the teams getting together for this social event. I’m really looking forward to an action packed weekend.”
Well he definitely got his wish, and this was echoed by the thousands of spectators that lined the shores of Lake Macquarie from Eleebana to Warners Bay, thence on to Speers Point and ultimately Marmong Point. Shade and chairs were the hot items at these spots.
The two SuperSports classes had the double races today, and tomorrow it will be the turn of the two enclosed cabin classes to have a pair of races. In the SuperSport 85 class, Ryan Shan was using his new boat for just the third time. It was going really well for them, and in the second race they really started to make a charge. Unfortunately, a drive shaft in the gearbox failed and they had to retire.
Back at the pit area you would not have known, for the beaming owner was just so excited about how well it was all going for his team. “We’ll be racing tomorrow. It was awesome fun, and made the last two weeks of hell (getting the boat ready after it landed in AUS) worth it.”
In terms of their ability to get faster and faster, Shan said, “We just felt more and more confident, especially in the corners, which meant we could just get keep on going up.”
Andrew Pike’s Slick 21 are about to also get a new boat, so it was unfortunate that the current boat had issues in the second race, as well. If they do well in tomorrow’s race they will secure second, which they are delighted about, given the tussle they have had with Gigglin’ all season.
A great first race today was followed by issues in the second. “We had a bit of an oil problem, and the motor went into limp mode. So we had to pull on the infield and bleed the tank up on top of the motor. It was good to get back circulating and get some points.”
“We have fixed it back ashore now and want to achieve a first or second place tomorrow to put some points in the bank, and lock away a prize.”
Not only was the racing close, so too was their performance, achieving an average of 64.9 in that first race, and you cannot get much better than that.
Thoughts were definitely with Superbad, who blew an engine in their only race of the day. Prior to that, Superbad was literally flying, and everyone noticed. Alas, blue smoke is never a good sign, so when a thin veil appeared over on the Eastern side of the course, hearts literally sank.
Throttleman, Steve Jellick, said, “As soon as you start a race engine, sometimes you just got to think how long are they going to last for? These engines have been really good for the last three or four years, so have been running for a while. We knew that they were just about at the retirement stage, and they just went a bit too early…”
Superbad’s new screws were also doing a fine job, up until disaster struck. Superbad was so quick, and we had some of the tightest racing in this blisteringly quick of classes that we have seen to date, which is no doubt part of the reason everyone was as collapsed as the broken motor.
Jellick added, “We were a little bit unsure about it all, because obviously we didn’t want to do any testing on these ageing motors. We had a good idea on where we needed to be, and we were pretty much on the money. A massive thank you to 222 for going to see if we can put one of their engines in for tomorrow.”
Reflecting on their ‘Rookie’ season, as it were, Jellick said,” It takes two to race, and Ryan is taking it on and absolutely loves it. We are having a ball. It is really close. We’re like a metre apart down, doing 130mph down the straights. In places they were probably a little bit quicker than us, and we were probably a little bit quicker than them in some others.”
Back ashore a rescue plan was hatched. In a truly magnificent gesture of sportsmanship, 222 Offshore got to work pulling out one of their spare engines to offer up as a temporary replacement. A busy night ahead for the crew, as they had to not only remove the blown engine, but then transfer the left engine over to the right engine bay and put the loaner motor into the now vacant bay in the left hull, as it worked better with the pulley arrangements for things like water pumps and steering.
Not the first time this season that 222 have shown their fine colours, either, and Darren Nicholson said, “Running with the Superbad boys was really good. They have certainly dialled up the boat a lot better than the previous owner had it. There was nothing between us. We could corner a little bit better, but we were settling down for a good 30 minutes of top notch racing.”
“I’m really hoping they can make the transplant happen, because Superbad made all the effort to get down here for this final round of the year. The least we can do is loan them an engine for tomorrow’s race and hopefully they’ll get round. I’ll probably be a bit of a giggle if they beat us with one of our engines.”
Showing true humour, Nicholson pondered, “I wonder if they beat us, do we get the title because it’s our engine in front? I wonder what the Race Director would have to say about that? If part of my boat wins, do 222 Offshore get all the points? Interesting…”
Earlier on in the day, the local Navy Cadets attended the pit area, where 222 gave them all a guided tour of their impressive facilities.
“We’ve had the air cadets through, and also lots of school kids. They might have been a bit subdued early on, but when they saw where a career path might take them they certainly livened right up”, said Nicholson in closing.
Gigglin’ have now secured the 2023 SuperSport 65 title, as along as they finish tomorrow. The boat looked really good, but just not as quick as usual. A very delighted Mark Sutherland commented, “We just came off a little bit just to preserve everything and lock it all away. Just a couple of miles an hour to make sure that we didn’t break today and secure the points that we needed for the championship. Everything is working fine, otherwise.”
“We just need to finish the race tomorrow. So we’ll go out there and just try and play it smart, but obviously we’ve still got to be competitive, too.”
Mike Ratcliffe from the all-conquering, The Sting, reflected on their new motors, “We were just getting used to the boat and setup, and discovered that it all needs to be altered (motors raised up and steering geometry), which we have now done. We wrapped up the Championship today, so tomorrow’s two races are all about our set up for next year. It will be a good day tomorrow, with a bit of wind up, so good stuff for us.”
Another boat to have an incredible day was The Mantis. They had teething problems at the start of the season after installing the new Mercury 300Rs, and the frustration was about as obvious as their monumental increase in pace today over earlier rounds.
“It wasn’t as straightforward at the start of the year as just bolting them on and there you go. They’re completely different engines with the way the gearboxes work and the lift and some other things. It took us a couple of months to get our head around it, but we’re happy now. It’s going very well”, said Antony de Fina.
They did have to back right off and check a few warning lights in the middle of that race, “We were waiting for it, as the port engine kept losing water pressure in those high-speed sweepers. So you shut down the engines, wait about 10 seconds for them to reset and off you go again. While we’re doing that, AMT whizzed past us, and then I’ll tell you what, it took us two or three laps to get around them.”
I think we’re going to have some ding-dong racing tomorrow with the Sting also getting faster and faster. They were catching us towards the end…”
Sunday’s racing commences at 1100am with the second race for the Supercat Outboard and Supercat Extreme classes. The two SuperSport classes have their final race at 12 noon, and then the two enclosed cockpit classes return for their last outing of the season at 1pm, and race again for another 30 minutes.
Presentations are back at Empire Marina at 4pm tomorrow, Sunday October 15.
Further information at superboat.com.au
It was persistent and resilient, as well as being an outright tease. Simply put, the sea fog as annoying. It would roll in and out, up and down the beach, moving quickly enough to be caught on video, and hang around, even when there was enough breeze that you thought it clearly had to blow away. It didn’t…
During the sighting lap, which is the precursor to the start, that oddly enough very much lived up to its name, the radio started to light with calls about not even being able to see the marks, let alone go around them. From our station at the North Western end of the course it was more like what fleet?
Race Management swiftly moved from white to red flags, and got everyone back off the plane to displacement speeds, and returned all to the milling area. After a few laps there the engines began to switch off and the lids opened to reveal the suited racers. Given the ambience it was somewhat akin a mass lunar landing, and had it not been for the helmets coming off and crews lounging on the foredeck of their craft, you might have gone down that path. Perhaps they were just aliens coming in to assess the third planet out from the big star…
One thing is for sure, and that is safety first. At up to 110mph for the Supercat Outboard class and 120mph plus for the Supercat Extreme, vision is not a byword, but a critical element. Race Director Russell Embleton waited, and then waited some more before abandoning the final show. Not surprisingly, the fog talk from all the local dive, whale, and fishing operators was all centred on, ‘Never seen that before!’
Good thing then that all the spectators amassed on shore and on the large cruise vessels all got to see wonderful close racing in the Sport 65 and Sport 85 classes a little earlier on.
The Colonel has been in fine touch all season, and it would seem they have even extracted a bit more from the boat to be clear leaders after the three rounds. Driver Jesse King commented, “The boat’s going really well. There are a couple of fast boats out there, so they certainly had us in their sights. Supernova might have had a fuel pressure issue, but Scott Cleaver is able to really able to make it rumble. Hayden has Action Property Management at a new level as well. It’s going to be good at Lake Macquarie, and we’re looking forward to it.”
There is no doubt The Colonel is flatter and faster than before, but as to the secret herbs and spices that have created the new running profile? Jason Kelly proffered,
“We have spent a lot of time the old man (Steve Kelly) down the Sportsmaster Marine, just working together o get the boat sorted. We’ve made a few adjustments to the tunnel (between the hulls) and also some placement of weight. It has certainly paid off and we think there are still a few more to do, as well.” The Kelly wand would seem to have a few spells left to cast…
“Provided we don’t have a break out, and finish the races themselves, then Lake Macquarie will be a good to close the season”, concluded Kelly.
When asked whether the conditions suited Nut Case Hary Bakkr replied, “Yes and no. The straight runs were fast and really suited. Some of the turns were a bit scary though, and we nearly came out a couple of times. The corners were quite lumpy, but we just hung in there and just kept going!’ We were side by side Gigglin Racing for about 15-20minutes, and it was absolutely epic racing.”
“Gigglin’ pulled away from us a bit when we nearly went over on a corner, and we pulled back for a little while to settle the boat. We got back on the plane and we thought we were right on the limit. We nearly lost it again at the same corner and we stuck to 62mph in the conditions, which turned out to be the right choice.”
“We had a feeling that Gigglin’ had broken out and we checked our main screen, and Shane had the hand held, we were mindful of not breaking out. We didn’t want to get pulled into a race just over speed. As it turned out we came first – not the way we wanted to come first, but we have had the same happen to us. Them’s the rules and that’s what happens. It was epic racing though!”
There is no doubt that Saracen is glad to be clawing back a few points over The Sting in the Supercat Outboard class. They were the first to adopt the new Mercury Racing 300hp four stroke V8s, and whilst promising early on, it has not been until Hervey Bay that they have had the chance to prove anything. Even a gearbox with oil that looked more like a tube of glitter could not stop them from trying to race, and enter Mark Pecherzewski, who loaned them his left hand drive after racing himself.
Mark Kelly commented, “Well hopefully now the boat’s starting to get sorted out and we we’re starting to get on top of all the little issues. It’s good that we’re knowing we’re going in the right direction anyway. We’re definitely not going backwards, so that’s good. We had a little gearbox failure yesterday, which we’re lucky only happened on the way back into the marina after racing.”
“We’re lucky that Mark lent us his gearbox today, so it was a mad dash between races to swap it off his boat onto our boat and we got out to the start, only to wait and wait…”
As for Lake Macquarie, and a real charge at the overall title? “I reckon the boat’s fast. We’re seeing pretty good speeds. It’s just a matter of cornering as well.”
No one is anything but utterly elated with the perennial crowd favourite, Team Superbad. They have chipped in from fixing fuel tanks to welding cracked headers, thus getting an older boat back out racing, and doing so faster and faster at every event. At Hervey Bay that showed some tremendous straight-line speed, and this is with the old motors.
Ryan Coleman spoke about it, “There’s been done a lot of work in between rounds. We lowered the dropboxes down and got a longer rudder, as well as a few tweaks here and there, and it seems to have paid off.”
Some of this is significant work, for the transom mounted boxes have come 30mm, which in turn means the engine mounts had to come down 15mm themselves. “It’s working really well, and the new motors should be in for Lake Macquarie”, said the no-longer-classed-as-a-rookie-driver Coleman.
“We’re always learning as a new team. I think that to get where we are so far is pretty good. We’re all still stoked, and all still very focussed on the job at hand.”
222 Offshore are one very tidy outfit, whether that’s polished transporter trucks, an immaculately presented Mini Moke, or sheer driving brilliance out on the course. As a team, they are doing better than well in the XCAT in Europe, the big V8 catamaran in the USA, and of course the Supercat Extreme here in Australia.
Does practice make perfect? “Oh, I don’t know about perfect. Look at. Appreciate the thought, but we’re always learning and I don’t know if the learning ever stops. Still, I think we’re certainly getting better at it, and practice is improving it. So if we can finish a bit more often, we’d be pretty chuffed.”
Not that 222 Offshore is any stranger to winning, it is just that they like to do it, and who does not? The Gulf of Mexico beckons, for another race awaits them there, and all the best to this very committed team.
There is no doubt that Scott cleaver’s Supernova is the best sounding boat out there. A huge Whipple supercharger atop the Mercury Racing bent eight certainly helps. Fuel starving issues may have not helped the first of their two entries racing over the weekend, but he was certainly able to see the bright side of a bigger future.
“It was great to see so many of the ski boats in both the 65 and 85 classes and we’re looking forward to see what can be achieved with the two organisations working together more. The future is bright.”
“We’ve learned a lot through the process of trying to get the ski race on board this year, and we may have been a little bit late to complete our permitting, but we know what we have to do for next time. Hopefully next year we can build that the model, and hopefully follow the circuit next year and bring a lot more to the grand spectacle.”
“We’ve had a few ski guys come up this weekend who are going to go back and really sing the praises of the event and the concept. These guys are going to be the voice for us in New South Wales, which is fantastic.”
The Hervey Bay Round of the 2023 Offshore Superboat Championship was supported by the Fraser Coast Council, Hervey Bay Boat Club who provide support boats and the host the annual meet and greet event, Pier Caravan Park and the Gilbert family, also Wide Bay Cranes, who have been with us for all 12 years that we have been coming to Hervey Bay.
Fraser Coast Deputy Mayor, Denis Chapman, said the Fraser Coast region was known for its lively and varied calendar of events.
“We are developing a reputation as a centre for hosting events, whether it be state hockey or rugby competitions, exhibition football matches, state, national and world sailing championships and powerboat racing,” he said.
“It was wonderful to see such quality powerboat racing and so many people enjoying themselves over the weekend.”
See you all for the final round of the season on Lake Macquarie, NSW, which will be held on October 14 and 15, 2023.
It comes down to this. Amongst the many, there were two little children on the side of the road enthusiastically waving their ‘Welcome Offshore Superboats’ sign as the armada of vessels and hot rods completed their lap of Hervey Bay’s streets immediately after the racing on Saturday. Their smiles were visible for all, and they literally erupted when the horn blasts from the truck towing 222 Offshore Racing’s Supercat Extreme acknowledged their spectacular efforts. Special moment right there. Full of spirit, and not lost anyone in the general proximity of the occasion. Well-done kids.
Next, take into consideration the greater clan from Bear Necessity. Wayne and (son) Joel Ruddell race the boat, daughter Tessa Walton could not wait to turn 17 and now races with Mark Pecherzewski on Special Edition, and it’s Kate Walton’s job to keep them all organised, and somehow manage to barrack for everyone too.
Next, bring in daughter Gemma Ruddell who flies in from Perth, for every round she can, whether that’s in Victoria, NSW or Queensland. Nice effort. Like wow. Great stuff. Now making her third appearance is Wayne and Kate’s niece, one Amy Walton. She first popped up at Wyndham Harbour, backed it up with her hometown of Geelong, and then it was her turn to jump on the kerosene canary, for here she is at Hervey Bay.
That’s certainly exemplifying spirit. Asked what it is all about Amy says, “I have no idea, to be honest. Until this year I didn’t even know that Superboat racing was a thing. I’d never even heard of it. So yeah, it’s just because Tessa and Wayne do it. So I thought I’d come along to Wyndham Harbour and, and see what it was all about. It was just so cool that I’d just kept coming back.”
As to whether it is family or fun, Amy added, “It is like a big family. Everybody is just in to help each other and it makes everyone feel welcome. Doesn’t matter what size boat people are racing, everyone feels welcome.” Does this mean she’ll be at Lake Macquarie then? “Maybe.”
So clearly everyone is a winner, but in terms of on the day, Sports 65, Sports 85, Supercat Outboard, and Supercat Extreme winners were Nut Case, The Colonel, Saracen, and 222 Offshore Racing.
Hary Bakkr with Shane Paton on the Razorcraft, Nut Case were certainly smiling, and as always, having a good time.”The boat handled the conditions well. I couldn’t have asked for better. The water was a little bit funny, but the boat was really, really consistent. We just did what we had to do, and kept that pace. Got scared a bit a few times with Gigglin Racing and Slick 21 coming up behind us as well, and thought, oh, we better just try to speed up a bit, but we didn’t want to break out (exceed their class limit of 65 mph), so we just kept it at that, and got there.”
“I was airborne a few times, but it was good.” As for preparation for the last race – “I’m going to fill my stomach up. Eat like a pig, and then crash, ready to do it all again. Nothing to do on the boat, so it is happy days.”
Jason Kelly and Jesse King took The Colonel to the win in the Sports 85 class. “It was all systems go at the start with all the other competitors around, that’s for sure. We managed to catch a break and get away from them as the laps went by. We ran at 84.5mph and thought Supernova might take us early on, I can tell you!”
“We’ve spent a fair bit of time developing a few different bits and pieces to the boat over in between the rounds as well, trying to get it to settle down a bit, and stop the porpoising. It’s looks like it’s paid off. So more of the same for last race too please.”
Antony de Fina races with Matt Kelly on Saracen, and commented, “It was hard work, particularly that back straight where the water was really hard to read. It was a bit flighty down there, but the boat ran well. We made a lot of changes since the last round, and in the three or four weeks everything seems to have come together. So we’re very happy.”
“It ran a treat with good overall speed and great corner speed too. No changes for the next race. All we need to do is put some fuel in. The Sting pushed us the whole way, so it’ll be on again for the last race. They knew they had targets on their backs, and obviously the ones on the back of their race jackets worked for us.”
Now it certainly was great weather and great water on the day, but as Darren Nicholson of 222 Racing commented, “It doesn’t take much to get these things airborne. The boat was bouncing around. It was a good race for the Superbad guys. Really good. Probably the best race we’ve had for a long, long, long time. Add in mixing it up with the outboard boats, and I think everybody had a very enjoyable day.”
If you were out on the water you certainly could see people beaming through the cockpit glass. “If you go faster on the straights, then you go slower out the corners. Superbad were a little bit slippery down the straight, but just a little bit slower out the corner, and when we ducked in under them at the top, well this was proof of that theory.”
It’s hard to turn that tight. Takes a fair bit of practice and experience. All credit Ryan, he’s got a new rudder on it and the boat was way better. “There’s nothing cheap about boats. Definitely not. Actually the joke over in America is they say you have to be a millionaire to race theses things, and by the time you finish you’re a thousandaire.”
This year, Nicholson has done very well in both Europe and the USA, as well as here in Australia where he races with Peter McGrath. Looking forward to more racing, Nicholson also commented that his class is more competitive now than it has been for a long time. Clearly they are set for the challenge that awaits them.
The Hervey Bay Round of the 2023 Offshore Superboat Championship is supported by the Fraser Coast Council, Hervey Bay Boat Club who provide support boats and the host the annual meet and greet event, Pier Caravan Park and the Gilbert family, also Wide Bay Cranes, who have been with us for all 12 years that we have been coming to Hervey Bay.
On Sunday, racing commences at 1140 with the second race for the Sports 65 and Sports 85 classes is conducted, then at 1230 it is the Supercats once more, before presentation of trophies back at the pit area at 230pm.
Indeed it did at Geelong. So after the abandonment of racing on the Saturday, it seemed like all the spectators who missed out went home and got reinforcements for the Sunday, so as to literally force the weather gods to let the Geelong Round of the Offshore Superboat Championship get under way. It worked, for many seasoned racers commented on the record number of people who had taken up the many prime vantage points from Steampacket Gardens, all the way to the hill at Eastern Beach.
Ryan Coleman and Steve Jellick continue to make Superbad get faster and faster. In the first race of the day they seemed to find a way to remove the stops on the throttles on the Supercat Extreme, and came down the back straight literally attempting to catch the light right in front of them.
Yet the first time in Superboat history that would await them on return to the quay was when Ryan married Ciarne on board Superbad. Mr and Mrs Coleman and their many friends could not have been happier. Fellow competitors helped in the celebrations, and the gathering of boats around them all added to the spectacle.
Coleman said, “It was all Ciarne’s idea, believe it or not. It was something we threw together not too long ago. I proposed last year, but we were pretty busy finishing off our house that we built together. We weren’t going to do anything big, and then this was like a bit of an idea. It was something just a bit different. A bit of fun, and the boat ties in.”
Jason Kelly and Jesse King had another wonderful day with The Colonel in the Sport 85 Class. Normally, Kelly is on the throttles, but when Andy Taylor could not participate with AMT Racing on Supercat Outboard, it was Kelly who stepped up to race in all four races of the day. This highlights not only the camaraderie of the sport, but also the Kelly family’s commitment to it.
“We all want all of the boats on the water at all times. The more the merrier! There were no dramas. Just a little bit of water in between races, as I ran from boat to boat. I was a bit hungry by the end, however. The conditions were pretty calm, so you were not taking too much of a beating out there, and that helped”, said Kelly.
On swapping from throttles to steering, Kelly showed the focus they are renowned for. “Once you switch on, you switch on, and push through. I didn’t even think twice about it. It was good to be out there racing alongside Dad, which was a bonus.”
“It was unfortunate with the no racing yesterday, but the officials put a lot of work into getting four races away today, which was really good for the spectators.” Jesse King pilots The Colonel and said, “We almost missed our start for the second race, but Jason got on board just in time. Bring on Hervey Bay!”
The Sport 65 had their biggest fleet to date for the Round at Geelong, which is just tremendous. Going as close as you can to 65mph, but not over might sound easy, but it is really challenging given the constantly varying conditions. Mark and Liam Sutherland of Team Gigglin have given the proverbial Master class in this at both Wyndham Harbour, and now Geelong. Furthermore, they have also displayed the all hands on deck attitude to contributions ashore that get the event away in the first place, and then packed up at the end of it too. Hauling all the anchors from the marker buoys back to the race truck is just one example.
Andrew Pike and Shannon Porter from Slick 21 have been almost identical, doing so many administrative tasks, like distributing all the handheld radios. They only thing they will want to do better is climb over Gigglin and claim top spot in the class. So we wait patiently to see what occurs out on the water next. Like the entire fleet, this Class was particularly glad to see both Mark Swain and Laura Wilson from Risky come out unharmed after an on water accident. No doubt they will be well supported by the Offshore Superboat Championship family.
222 Racing have been the class act of the first two rounds. A well-prepared outfit, which is then piloted so well out on the water, has seen them make every single post a winner in each race to date. The inimitable Peter McGrath said afterwards, but very much looking forward, “Hervey Bay can be a side chop and quite lumpy. You have to have your wits about you, but yes it would be good to continue to do well.”
“The boat’s going extremely well. We’ve done a few little things to it, and it’s making us a lot happier now. It will be good to have all the others (in this class) back racing once more. There are some really, really good boats just sitting there at the moment, and some great competitors, too.”
“After COVID it’s engine parts that are really, really difficult to get, so I can understand their pain. I love Geelong. Always have, and so I was very happy to come down here this time. The crowd’s really close, and that’s what it’s all about.”
It has to be said that Karl Wall and Mike Ratcliffe from The Sting seemed to have their name on just about every trophy when it came to presentation time. This was deserved, for they have had quite the stellar start to the season in the bright yellow Supercat Outboard that seems to corner like it is on rails, and is powered by a pair of amazing, 20-year-old, two-stroke 300hp gems that simply don’t know how to say die.
Wall was very happy to be taking the prized Robert Weir Trophy back to Queensland for 12 months and thought some pictures of it on the back with a cocktail would help his Victorian comrades get over the shock. “We’ll keep it safe for 12 months”, said Wall.
Now the original plan was to go out and do just 40mph, which would have been enough to grab the points. However, their eyes narrowed once out on the water. “Our horns grew, and the plan went out the window. As soon as we see the back of their outboards, we’ve just got to get past them. It’s the rules. We’ve got to do it.”
“We were really lucky, especially in the first race. We were having trim issues and then it came back to us. We worked our way up from fourth to first, which was hard, but fun. The others weren’t backing off, it’s just that they have to skate around the corners with their wider tunnels, whereas we can turn on a dime, picking up, two or three seconds every corner. Yes. It was good for the spectators too, seeing us work our way back through the field. It makes it very, very interesting.”
Mayor Trent Sullivan had a run in the Saracen Supercat Outboard on Friday ahead of racing, and was totally thrilled to be given the opportunity to drive. “I am delighted to welcome some of the country’s best Superboat operators here to Geelong for this event,” Mayor Sullivan said.
“Council has provided support in the past three years to the Australian Offshore Powerboat Club via its Community Event grants program, and this promises to be a brilliant weekend for water sport enthusiasts.”
Commodore of the Australian Offshore Powerboat Club said, Antony de Fina said, “Despite the testing weather of the Saturday, you only have to look at the turnout for Sunday to see why the spectators and racers love our round at Geelong so much. By far it is one of, or perhaps the biggest crowd, we have ever had here. The amount of people on the wave attenuator and up on the hill was spectacular, and yes, we can see that from inside our Supercats.”
“We receive such fantastic support from the people of Geelong that come out and watch us, and the City of Geelong, as well, who really get behind this event. It simply wouldn’t happen without their gracious involvement.”
The Offshore Superboat Championship is very appreciative of the support provided by the City of Geelong, Brandon Hospitality Solutions for the Championship trophies, ODLS Overdimensional Lift and Shift who provided the dedicated crane services, and Razorcraft boats for their support of our Victorian rounds.
Race Director, Russell Embleton, highlighted the importance of key elements that go into making the racing happen. “There are a bunch of volunteers that have no ongoing or day-to-day interest as such in offshore powerboat racing, but they’re just good, decent boaties, and when they’re asked to pitch in, they do through friendships and associations with the people that do race. Every single one of our exclusion zone boats, and rescue craft are Mums, Dads and mates that have pitched in to male the weekend what it was, and done an awesome job.”
“Craig and Steve on the start boat are terrific, as too the divers, and medical officers, all of who think it through, and we are privileged to have them.”
So yes. Many thanks to all of the volunteers, live coverage team, officials and first responders for all that they do to make the event happen and come to life. Special thanks to Patrick Paczkowski and Brendan Mitchell for placing our media team exactly where required in the brilliant, brand new red Cootacraft.
Results, video, and information at superboat.com.au
Racing in Round Two of the 2023 Offshore Superboat Championship was abandoned on Corio Bay on Saturday, March 18 due to the prevailing weather conditions. Australian Offshore Powerboat Club Commodore, Antony de Fina, stated “This is probably the windiest I’ve ever seen it here at Geelong. We couldn’t get a full flotilla of safety boats out and once that occurs, we really can’t run a full fleet of racing boats.”
The Royal Geelong Yacht Club closed the pier along the wave attenuator, as there was water washing over it. This makes it slippery and hazardous for people, so this to highlights that safety comes first.
“It’s always a difficult decision when you cannot facilitate the racing, but it just wasn’t worth going out there, risking not only the safety boats, but significant damage to other boats, as well.”
“So we ran the two big Class One boats as an exhibition race to finish the day off. We’ll bring racing forward tomorrow, shorten them to 25 minutes, and get an extra race away to make it four for the day.”
Racing commences at 10 30am with the Sports 65 and 85 Classes.
2023 Offshore Superboat Championship – Get Set Geelong!
Geelong’s Corio Bay is set to ignite this weekend, as the Superboats take to the water.
In just about all events you always find one sole whose remit seems to be unendingly long, but can be described in just a few words. Namely, get the job done. Such is the case with Russell Embleton, who is not only the Secretary of the APBA Offshore Council, but also the Race Director for the Offshore Superboat Championships. Ordinarily, any of those would be enough for one soul, but the smiling Embleton also adds driver of the Race Control Truck to his list of jobs.
Of the impending racing at Geelong on March 18 and 19, Embleton said, “The Wyndham Harbour races a few weeks ago did a great job of unearthing some first round gremlins on a number of the Superboats. With ample time between Rounds One and Two to iron those gremlins out, I’m expecting the calmer, faster waters of Corio Bay in Geelong to really offer up some great Superboat racing.”
“Pleasingly, the Sports 85 and Sports 65 boats put on a heck of a show at Wyndham Harbour, and with increased numbers at Geelong, spirited and close racing is guaranteed. Geelong’s natural amphitheatre is going to host some memorable racing this weekend!”
Patrick Boyle works at Mark Pecherzewski’s Cootacraft, which is located right in the Sou’east corner of mainland Australia. Boyle is bringing his own vessel all the way from Mallacoota to Geelong, where his boss’ new boat, Special Edition, will be hoping to springboard from its successes on the last day of racing at Wyndham Harbour.
Boyle was very active rescuing Koalas during the horrendous bushfires of three years ago. Keen to add his contribution to the devastated, tight knit community, he went out and retrieved stricken animals and returned them to the shelter for recuperation, praising the round the clock efforts of the volunteers.
AMT Marine Racing (Andy Taylor and Paul Fowlds) must have thought they were in a maze at Wyndham Harbour, with electrical gremlins just adding to their list of issues to overcome. It must have felt like the polar opposite of The Sting, who seemed to be able to make very post a winner.
Throttleman, Paul Fowlds said, “Whilst the team was bitterly disappointed with the round at Wyndham Harbour, we really look forward to the Geelong round, which is undeniably one of the favourites on the circuit.”
“We have been able to source a gearbox housing, it has been rebuilt, and already in Melbourne all set to go. Our main goal is to get some points back on, The Sting. Their boat is running fantastically well, and will be hard to beat. It will also be a tough contest with both TCR, and Saracen, who will be just as motivated as we are to get a complete weekend’s racing in.”
Mark Swain and his co-pilot, Laura Wilson, are Risky Racing based in Portarlington, just near Geelong. Just before the opening round it was discovered that the boat’s motor needed more than just a bit of love. Step in Dennis Samuelson, who has provided them with a new motor. Swain said of this, “We can’t thank Dennis enough. He has been nothing short of an absolute superstar!”
Apart from their shore crew of Josh and Chloe Bossong also helping to get the boat ready, Simon Kelly and the crew at fellow competitor, TCR, mounted the new motor in super fast fashion. The result – “Risky is back!!!” Yes you can certainly tell that they are more than happy about that.
The Geelong Round of the 2023 Offshore Superboat Championship is supported by the City of Greater Geelong. Thanks also to our sponsors Razorcraft, Brandon Hospitality Solutions and ODLS.
Racing commences on Saturday from 1pm local time, with two races for the Sports 65 and Sports 85 classes, and one for Supercat Outboard and Supercat Extreme classes conducted in between. On Sunday, racing commences at 11am local time, with the reverse order of racing, before presentation of trophies.
Immediate Release Feb 26th:
2023 Offshore Superboat Championship –
Sun’s out. Guns out.
The title says it all. Despite a less than optimistic forecast, the sun gave a sparkle, and the crews loved it all. Enough breeze, in the 12-15 knot bracket for the majority of the racing, put good lumps on the course. This in turn delighted the crowds, who gave their applause feely and loudly each time the boats passed.
Mark Pecherzewski on the stunning Cootacraft, Special Edition, made the boat go as well today as it looks, even when standing still. The race win in the Sport85 class certainly made him happy, but the way he was able to just extend his lead on every lap, without breaking out past the mandated 85mph was not only something to behold, but a delight to watch.
It was definitely one for the Deep Vee’s today, and Special Edition held pace just about everywhere it went on the course. Pecherzewski said, “Yesterday we were outgunned by the 24-foot Skater (The Colonel) because they’re so fast on the corners at the same time as they are in the straight lane. So they could have held their speed probably at 84 and a half yesterday.”
“But today, once the 15-knot breeze arrived, where the sea kicks up, they’re actually bottoming out, where the monohull cuts through it. So our boat runs like a train from crest to crest of the waves. We’ve also got an advantage because we’re 31.5 feet long.”
Special Edition was also very stable, and not shifting from one chine to the other as it powered through the waves. This is also the case at rest, which is great for fishing. Pecherzewski owns Cootacraft, and commented on the design, “This is our new, twin step Super Vee. It goes 24 to 23, to 22 degrees deadrise at the transom. It’s unbelievable!
Well this hull is gong to become our 32 Sportsfisher, with a thousand-litre fuel tank, and obviously different configuration, like a four metre cockpit, and it will sleep four people. We also have a 34-footer on the cards, and it will have a 10-foot beam. It will run triple 450hp outboards as a canyon runner up in North Queensland.
So definitely the work they are doing out on the track is transferring into the their product offering. “A hundred percent. This is our testing ground. If I’m happy with the hull, we will put it into the production. If I’m not, I will cut it up with the chainsaw.” If you know the man, you know the latter will be true.
“I’m the test crash dummy for all my customers. I’m the stunt driver.”
As to whether he can alleviate some of the glueyness in the softer conditions, the response is, “Yes. We’ll just keep practicing, and yesterday was our first race. We only did 55-65mph yesterday, then 65 to 68 in the second race. We are going quicker and quicker around the corners without any mishaps.”
Ben Embleton co-piloted today for ‘Mark the Russian’, as he is known. Embleton’s Maiden Race, as it turns out, and Maiden Win to go with it. This of course meant he had to have a swim at the end of the day, as part of the time honoured ritual. Ben assists his Father, Russell, with all of the race management, but this was his first race, hence the swim. “I guess if you work hard enough, you get to have some fun; work hard, play hard, right.”
In terms of what he’s learned from both sides of the equation, Embleton said, “The stuff I’ve learned in race control, like awareness from watching others get it wrong, I can translate onto the course, and help Mark out. I can also bring a lot back from the racecourse to race control, so it is very handy, and I think it translates perfectly. You get to understand how the drivers are feeling, and what they’re doing from their perspective. Overall it’s probably helped my vision from inside race control.”
As for which one he enjoys more, “It’s probably closer than you may think. I love race control, but wow that was fun. I’ll be staying in race control for the rest of this season at least, but happy to hear about offers to get back on the water.”
Jason Kelly and Jesse King took the rebuilt, Colonel, to an impressive string of first, first, and second for their weekend’s work in the Sport 85 class, and the lead to date. “We have worked hard to get the boat ready. Two years ago, and I think it was here; my brother and I ended up crashing and rolled the boat over. It resulted in a full rebuild, actually. Dad built the engines, which is a massive credit to him, and they’ve been faultless ever since”, said Kelly.
“We rushed a bit to get the boat ready for last year, so we used the off-season to sort things out, and the boat’s come out well, I think.” Of course, three pieces of Silverware for the weekend would have to be a good thing to underscore all that.
King said, “We would like to make it three firsts at Geelong in a couple of weeks (March 18 and 19). I am having a great time, and really enjoying the family atmosphere. Sportsmaster Marine does an incredible job, and it seems like I just show up and drive.”
Kelly added, “We are reasonably confident with Geelong. I know we’ve got a fast boat. We can comfortably do 85, and as long as we don’t break out, we are in good shape. Most years it is reasonably smooth there, which is also going to help us. The starts are crucial. You make the most of your race by the time you het to the first corner.”
King added, “If you get to the first corner in the top position you do have a cleaner run at it, and then you should be off and steaming away.”
Mark and Liam Sutherland from Team Gigglin in the Sport65 class were very much doing just that after a successful weekend that sees them leading the Championship so far. “We’re very happy with the results from the weekend. It’s how we wanted it to turn out, but yes, it was a big effort from everyone involved.
It was a little bit bumpy out there today, but we enjoy the rough water. We think that that’s where we’ve got a bit more of an edge with our boat and our setup. We wanted to prove that point today, and we think we did that pretty well.”
As for how close they were to the magic 65 miles an hour? “63.9 today and. 64.9 yesterday. We really had to watch it yesterday, and not break out, and we did a small amount yesterday in the second race, by 0.2mph, actually, so took the 30-second penalty for that. It’s really difficult to stay right on your mark when the racing’s so close.”
Today the run across the top of the course involved a turn back across the breeze, and waveline, and wake as well for a lot of the competitors in this class. It was interesting, for sure. “Once we got around the corner, we were back on the throttles again pretty quickly. The boat handles it all well. You’re able to see the next mark from the previous one, so you line it all up and try to position yourself as best you can for the corners.”
This is a team that will go in with form for Geelong, for sure. “We’ll come at it again, see what we can do, and take it one race at a time and enjoy just ourselves.”
Ryan Coleman and Steve Jellick in the awesomely awesome Supercat Extreme, Superbad, just keep getting better. A new team, as it were, but with loads of experience in everything from powerboat racing to superbikes, they are certainly well set for a continued upward trajectory. So it is not a rookie team by any means.
Coleman said, “It went pretty well. A bit of a learning curve, so we took the first few races pretty easy and then had a bit of fun in the last one.” Was it a lot of stress in the early ones, just making sure you were hanging in there, or did you find you were a relaxing into it really well? “I was quite relaxed. Just like sitting on the lounge watching the V8 Supercars.”
“The one thing we are going to walk away with from the weekend is to be ready for Geelong. Got a lot of work to do, but we’ll get there. A lot of it is general maintenance and teething problems. All part of the plan!” Almost in unison, the team quotes the line from Talladaga Nights, ‘Shake ‘n’ Bake’. Know what that means and you know what this team does, and winning is most certainly on the agenda.
Many thanks to all of the volunteers, live coverage team, officials and first responders for all that they do to make the event happen and come to life. Special thanks to Paul Jabke and Craig Dove for having our media team on board their craft, which were also acting in official roles.
Immediate Release Feb 25th:
2023 Offshore Superboat Championship –
Excitement Reigns Supreme
The return of powerboat racing brought smiles to competitors and spectators alike. However, some smiled more, and for good reason, after the first day of Round One of the 2023 Offshore Superboat Championship at Wyndham Harbour in Melbourne. Yes, there were some sad tales, like broken alternators, but even this could not cast a negative spell over the day.
Hary Bakkr from Razorcraft Boats drove his virtually brand new vessel, Nut Case, to an emphatic win in the first race, which meant a lot to he and Shane Paton. Put simply, you could tell by the arms in the air and fist pumps, and they had not even completely crossed the line yet, such was their winning margin. Maiden race, maiden win. Nice.
They climbed to the front of this super-close class, where the speed is limited to 65mph, and the GPS is checked afterwards. “I just couldn’t have anyone come up on the inside of me. So I thought, as soon as I had the lead, I have to keep it, and if that happens, we’ll get the win. So it was my aim to just stay in front, and it worked”, said Bakkr.
“In the second race we were over by two miles per hour, at 67. So that’s it, we were disqualified in that one. We saw it, and we were like, well, we’ve broken out already, so let’s just go have fun and punch it. Tomorrow, tomorrow’s a new day!”
“It might not have looked it, but there was chop out there. The boat did really well, and Shane is all in one piece. It was a really good day.” The Razorcraft they are racing is one of their fishing hulls, and trainspotters will not the seats are 600mm further forward than the production craft. Normally this means you bounce around a bit more. Bakkr refers to the fact that their boats like forward balance, which in turn means the bow is working to cut the path for the hull.
Karl Wall with Mike Ratcliffe had the gloriously yellow Supercat Outboard, The Sting, literally floating above the waves like a butterfly, and also delivering real venom with the best part of 100mph averages around the track. They looked, good, sounded great, and made just about every post a winner. By the time they secured the lead you just knew they were on for a big lead, and it was mission accomplished by the time their 30 minutes had elapsed.
They proved that you can just leave the quay, put the helmet on, go out there and win a race, but remember; there is a lot of racing history that they can draw on. Wall commented, “It’s not bad for a pair of 20 year old engines. She held her own today and it was actually quite good to show these young engines up.”
Just like Razorcraft Racing, The Sting did not have it all their own way, either. They needed some wide shoulders early on, but once through, their corner speed was clearly superior to the competition. “We got tangled up a little bit in the washes of the extreme boats, which gave the crews on the outside a bit more advantage to get around.” TCR certainly did that, and was the early leader, but soon all were seeing The Sting’s rooster tail, about which Wall says, “It was just that boat was consistent every lap.”
Today would have been even more special for Wall, as his son (Lachy) would have been old enough to race with him by now, and even celebrate with a beer after wards. It was definitely a win for everybody. “I always think that Lachy’s my crew chief, just watching me out there on the on the boat every time we race. I always feel good in the boat when I know that. He’s made that boat just an absolute rocketship for me. Every team in the offshore all think of Lachy and they all do tribute their racing to Lachy as well, which is great. The offshore family is a very good family.”
Tom Barry-Cotter is the Driver of the Maritimo Racing Supercat Extreme, and together with the inimitable Ross Willaton they showed ballistic power as they blasted away from the start and made the most of their pole position. Two things occurred, in what seemed like rapid succession, which put their plans asunder. Barry-Cotter explains, “The boat felt really good in the first few laps after a great start. We had a rookie error from me, in missing Mark Charlie, where I headed directly to Delta instead. There was a bit of cloud up there in the distance, a boat that distracted me, and the next thing you knew, we had gone past it.” Remember that this is at 200kmh plus, so do not be swift to judge…
“Next event was when we were going down the back straight, directly opposite the spot where I had missed the mark on the other side, and the motor just jumped out of gear. It wasn’t a nice clean jump out, either, and we could hear something mashing itself up. We’ll check the boat over, and make sure dropbox is okay so that we can run for tomorrow.”
The drop box is what feeds the power into the surface drive, which is the long, articulated shaft that extends out the back of the boat to where the surface piercing screw resides. There was no oil in the engine room after the incident.
“So the engines running fine, it’s just a bit of a gut punch that we’ll lose our pole position, and have to start on the outside in position three. Superbad is a fast boat in the straights, and they’ll be even better tomorrow. We’ll have our work cut out for us as we try to pass two boats instead of having a nice clean run at it”, said Barry-Cotter.
Darren Nicholson is the Driver of 222 Offshore, so smart in its Royal Australian Navy livery. He and Peter McGrath on the throttles grabbed the win in the Supercat Extreme Class today. He’d been a sailor before he found the superboats, and said, “It’s very similar. Speed’s different; same preparation, however. You still have to see the mark, see your opposition, work out what lines they are taking, and of course, look out for wind. Not so much as in sailing, but if there’s a wave at the mark, you think twice about exactly where you are going to turn, and where you want to be on the way out.”
Interestingly, in a world so data driven, Nicholson is glad he and Peter McGrath are not face down looking at screens, but rather looking out of the boat and being attuned to their surrounds.
Highlighting this very point, and reflecting on the ability to feel the boat, and all that it is going through as you push it, Nicholson said, “It certainly helps. When I first had a run in with Pete, I don’t know, 10, or 12 years ago, he said to me, ‘You’ll do!’ I was like what does that mean? He responded with I’m happy to drive with you because I can tell that you have a feel for what’s going. Because if you don’t, you can kill me.’ So I thought that’s fair. You have to have feel, and you have to be calm.”
“Anybody can get in there and shove the throttles down hard. No real skill in that at all. It’s when to pull it back. That’s the hard part and what counts. So feeling, and especially on a rough day in big waves, is critical. Power, and when to apply it or remove it seriously affects the way the boat runs, especially when landing. If there’s no power on then, well, it’s like having a hand brake on. It can pull all the gear out the back. It’ll seriously just drag it straight off the transom”, said Nicholson.
Racing continues on Sunday from 11am local time, with two races for the Supercat Outboard and Supercat Extreme classes, and just the one for the Sports65 and Sports85 classes.
- The Offshore Superboat Championships are coming.
- Round One at Wyndham Harbour in Victoria on 25-26 February 2023.
- Round Two on Corio Bay at Geelong (VIC) on 18-19 March 2023.
- Round Three on Hervey Bay in Queensland on 24-25 June 2023.
- Round Four on Lake Macquarie in NSW on 14-15 October 2023.
- Four exciting classes will each have three races spanning each weekend.
- Close to shore action to enthral the thousands of spectators.
- Race Village feel with additional entertainment and hospitality options.
The Australian Offshore Powerboat Club is thrilled to announce that the Offshore Superboat Championship is back for 2023 with a swag of exciting racing to come.
The lightning fast, forty foot long, Class One V8 Superboats are back with a four-boat fleet. These craft are capable of up to 220km/h thanks to a pair of carburettor fed, 510 cubic inch big block derived V8s developing a staggering 830hp each that drive the surface piercing propellers, so well known for their incredible rooster tail wakes. Many of these motors are built by Maritimo Racing.
Darren Nicholson’s 222 team is returning for full season, after winning all of the now defunct UIM XCAT races. Maritimo are champions in several classes around the globe, and have been our Class One Champions on many occasions over the last few decades.
Some of the Class One vessels feature motors from engine builders that supply the world-renowned V8 Supercars teams. Even some of the drivers have been involved over the years, with Russell ‘The Enforcer’ Ingall racing around 15 years ago and Todd Kelly being involved only four years ago.
Andrew Searle is a long-time participant in the class, but lately has been heavily engaged in drag cars. Andrew’s late brother, Steve, was also a long-standing supporter of the series. Andrew is hoping to have his new Class One vessel, ACME Racing, ready by the end of the season.
Supercat Outboard class are 30 feet long, and have 600hp on tap, courtesy of two 300hp outboards on each hull. This is the class most common around the globe, with similar vessels racing in New Zealand and the USA. Even the XCATs were derived from this class.
Many still use the two-stroke Mercury 300XS to achieve speeds of up to 180km/h. The governing body for the Offshore Superboat Championship is the Australian offshore Powerboat Club, whose Commodore actively races in this class. Antony de Fina has just installed Mercury’s new, purpose built for racing, 4-stroke V8 300R outboards to his craft, Saracen, and is the only one running this package for now. De Fina stated, “I’ve always liked to test new equipment and be at the forefront, so am very excited to get going with the racing. 50% of the teams in the USA are already using them, so it will be good to see how they perform.”
The largest fleet of boats racing form the two Sports Classes, 65 and 85, which reflect the maximum speed in miles per hour that these craft can travel at. This is the most accessible level of racing, as it is specifically formulated for production boats. Indeed, several of the manufacturers, like Cootacraft from Mallacoota, Edencraft based in Geelong, and Razorcraft in Somerton have their own factory teams.
Competitors come from all over the Eastern Seaboard to attend the events. Their craft are powered by 200, 250, and even 300hp engines from brands like Mercury, Evinrude, and Suzuki, but outright speed is not the real goal here. These are speed bracketed classes, and so it is much more akin to the regularity trials that car clubs often run.
The boats are GPS governed to ensure they do not exceed speed limit, for if they do, heavy penalties apply. Consistency of speed is what will win the day here, so driver skill and boat set up are crucial, especially as conditions vary so much.
The enthusiasm of the teams is spread out to the spectators, who can connect with the racers and boats ashore for that engagement and inspiration only racing provides. It continues once the racing begins, for the action is close to shore, and there are plenty of amenities to also partake in during the breaks.
So just who will stand atop the dais at the end of the weekend? Well, there are three races for each class over the course of the weekend for them to gain points for their respective, overall championship, and it is a thrilling combination of speed, reliability and consistency that will anoint the winners in the end.