by Bob Wonders
Bridge to Bridge Powerboat Race - Tom Barry-Cotter and Ross Willaton boast something like seven Australian Class 1 Offshore Championships between them but all that experience may be of little help on Sunday when they tackle Sydney’s winding Hawkesbury River in the annual Bridge to Bridge powerboat classic.
Multiple winner and race record holder Ricky Howard, unable to make the start line this year, but determined to be there in 2013. - Bridge to Bridge power boat race
Barry-Cotter and Willaton will be aboard ‘Maritimo’, the 42’ (12.80-metres) catamaran with dual 1300hp Maritimo engines and a top speed capability of 170mph (273km/hr).
Staged by the Upper Hawkesbury Power Boat Club, the race attracts thousands of spectators along its 112 kilometre (72 miles) length, with many of Australia’s fastest hydroplanes and tunnel boats among the competitors.
Altogether, there will be two offshore boats competing; Mark Harrison and Craig Purton aboard their Supercat 1000 boat ‘Australian Vehicle Wholesalers’ (dual 525hp MerCruisers) will be there to keep ‘Maritimo’ company.
There’s no doubting the offshore boats are very quick, what is unknown is how they will fare on a long, twisting course like the Hawkesbury River.
Sadly, race record holder and multiple winner Ricky Howard won’t be racing; his boat will not be ready this year, but he’s determined to be back in 2013.
Rocky established the race record in his hydroplane ‘Hyperactive’ in 20008 when he covered the course in a blistering 29 minutes 47 seconds!
His average speed for the punishing course was 138mph (222km/hr).
Last year’s winner, Simon McMah, will be chasing his third (he also took the chequered flag in 2009) win aboard the bright red ‘Anarchy’, capable of 140mph thanks to its naturally aspirated 510 cubic inch big block Chev.
‘Two in a row would make it a very nice weekend for me,' McMah smiled.
Strong competition will come from Paul Vella and another bright red machine, ‘Impatient’, a hydro capable of hitting 140mph-plus (225km/hr).
In fact, Ricky Howard suggests either of these two men are likely to emerge as outright winner.
As for the offshore boats competing on ‘unfamiliar territory’, competing drivers all welcomed the competition, but claimed the many sweeping curves and tight turns on the river’s course would ‘sort them out.’
The Upper Hawkesbury Power Boat Club has been staging this even for more than 75-years and over that time it has attracted some of Australia’s best-known powerboat aces.
Past winners include Bobby Halliday, Craig Bailey, Pat Burke and the legendary Ernie Nunn among them.
The Bridge to Bridge 2012 powerboat classic will be another page in the UHPBC history book; we wish all involved safe racing.