by Bob Wonders
Bill Barry-Cotter, Maritimo Offshore team owner, is a happy man.
Bill Barry-Cotter, all smiles after technical rule changes to offshore racing win unanimous approval.
Barry-Cotter returned last week from Romania and a full meeting with the World Professional Powerboating Association (WPPA), which has accepted unanimously the raft of technical rule changes for the Class I World Powerboat Championships.
The new rules will come into effect from January 1, 2009.
Prior to the meeting, Barry-Cotter’s proposed rule changes had been ratified by the International Offshore Teams Association (IOTA).
Barry-Cotter, a member of the Technical Council of the WPPA, said he was delighted that the raft of changes had been adopted with no hint of any amendments offered.
'This will, I believe, see the end of the old Class I competition within the next two or three years,' he said.
Barry-Cotter said the adoption of the new rules would amount to a 'huge shot in the arm' for offshore powerboat racing.
'The former Class I was accepted only in Europe and the Middle East,' he explained.
'With the new rules specifying identical catamaran boats powered by a naturally-aspirated 790hp engines, Class I now has acceptance across Europe, the Middle East, the United States and Australia and New Zealand'.
Barry-Cotter formulated the rule changes in an effort to make offshore racing more affordable and attract additional teams to the sport.
He estimated it cost nearly AUD$1.5 million to bring a race ready boat to the line with Carbon Fibre and Nomex construction and Lamborghini engines.
The cost to field one of the new boats will be in the region of $400,000 to AUD$500,000, a massive saving in anyone’s language.
Other changes include the appointment of a sole propeller manufacturer and a limit placed on teams of three sets of propellers for the season.
All electronic devices must be removed.
However, existing Class I boat/engine combinations will be allowed to compete against the 790hp class boats, but only for a limited time yet to be determined.
Barry-Cotter has described offshore powerboat racing as 'a sleeping giant' on the Australian sporting calendar.
'I believe the adoption of these rule changes, together with what I confidently expect will be an influx of new teams, will awaken the sport to a new generation of fans,' he declared.