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.