by Bob Wonders
The sleek, white catamaran, ‘Maritimo-Mainlube’ Express, its weight lightened and its engines bay housing smaller engines to bring it into the Supercat 1000hp Class, proved too good for the field and dominated the opening round of the 2012 Offshore Superboat Championship (OSC).
'Maritimo-Mainlube Express' takes the chequered flag and an opening victory for ther 2012 OSC season. - Newcastle Offshore
Staged in rather boisterous seas off Newcastle, which OSC President Adam Gilbert estimated were ‘pushing 4.0-metres’, ‘Maritimo-Mainlube Express’ with Maritimo crew chief Peter ‘Muddy’ McGrath on throttles and Darren Nicholson at the wheel, was the only entrant to complete the full 13 laps of the course.
As an offshore meeting, the event proved an outstanding success, with unprecedented spectators lining both sides of Newcastle Harbour.
Twelve boats lined up in three classes, Supercat 1000hp, Supercat 600hp and Supercat 400hp, but as always offshore racing proved to be a rugged affair and five boats were forced out through various mechanical failures.
Other Class winners were ‘Kwozzy 2’, Jim Harris and Paul Fowlds aboard (Supercat 600hp) and ‘Phantom’, with Mick Walker driving and Gary Smith on throttles (Supercat 400hp).
It was not a good day for Adam Gilbert’s ‘Team 3.’
Racing in Supercat 1000hp, the crew Steve Jellick (driver) and Travis Thompson (throttles) sustained apparent hull damage in the rolling swells and elected to return cautiously to the pit area.
A closer inspection revealed some damage and it was thought retirement was the best option.
Back on the race course, ‘Maritimo-Mainlube Express’ continued to lead the way from eventual minor place getters ‘The Good Guys’ and ‘Global Racing’ with ‘Australian Vehicle Wholesalers’ coming home in fourth spot.
Mr Gilbert said the experience of Peter McGrath was something that no competitor could write off.
'Maritimo-Mainlube Express’ was last out of the blocks and struggled to get onto the plane with a full load of fuel, but once that was achieved the boat handled the swells effortlessly and more or less cruised through to an outstanding victory,' he added.
The big catamaran covered the race in just 64 minutes, 12 seconds, topping 160km/hr (100mph) quite regularly through the race.
Brothers Chris and Brendan Frier aboard ‘The Good Guys’ were only just off the pace and certainly made the race competitive; Mike Beil and Chris Hanley (‘Global Racing’) were only seconds behind with a further two minutes back to Mark Harrison and Craig Purton (‘Australian Vehicle Wholesalers’) in fourth.
Jim Harris and Paul Fowlds probably still can’t get the smiles off their faces with the new ‘Kwozzy 2’ easily claiming Supercat 600hp.
I say easily for the simple reason that ‘Kwozzy 2’ was the only finisher, with the all-new ‘SUV Dodge Ram’ and the usually reliable ‘Berwicks’ both registering the dreaded DNF.
Conn Saloumidis, at the wheel of his new ‘SUV Dodge Ram’ for the first time (Brett Luhrmann on throttles) did not have a happy day.
The 32-footer powered by dual Evinrude outboards, looked the goods early and showed it had the pace and the handling characteristics to prove competitive, but the gremlins were also on board.
When ‘SUV Dodge Ram’ was forced out, it limped back to the pit area minus one very expensive Herring propeller and one propeller shaft!
Hopefully, divers were able to recover the missing gear.
Graham Fraser and Scott Gehrman (‘Berwicks’) were also casualties, their boat sustaining gearbox problems.
Supercat 400hp was a neck-and-neck battle for the early part of the race, with Mick Walker and Gary Smith (‘Phantom’) involved in what was described as ' an epic duel' with Michael and Gryff Ethell in ’88 Offshore Racing’.
Sadly, the duel ended when mechanical problems forced ’88 Offshore Racing’ to call it quits and ‘Shaken Not Stirred’, with Brian Dale and Brooke Ullrich, the OSC’s only female competitor, allowed to pass by and claim third place.
Mark Taylor and Nigel Craven (‘It’s About Time’) and Greg Collins and Karl Wall (‘Number 8 Racing’) were unable to make it to the start line.
The 'offshore circus' heads north for the next round, with the racers due to 'go to war' off Mackay, North Queensland, over the weekend of June 23-24.
Offshore Superboat Championships website