Offshore Superboat Championships: Round 3 at Hervey Bay – Day 2 wrap
by Australian Offshore Powerboat Club 25 Jun 20:04 PDT
24-25 June 2023
Teams ponder their next move as the sea fog rolls in once more… © Offshore Superboat Championship
Not even fog dampens the day at Hervey Bay.
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.
Further information at superboat.com.au.