'Scott Gehrmann and Graham Fraser will pull out all stops aboard GSK Marine Racing/BBC Digital after failing to finish at Newcstle when they snapped a drive shaft. - Offshore racers head for NQ'
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It’s all systems go for rounds two and three of the Australian Offshore Superboat Championships (OSC), with the tropical waters off Mackay (June 23/24) and Townsville (June 30-July 1) set to welcome a full line up of 14 starters in three classes./b>
The championship round off Mackay forms a component of the Mackay Marine Festival and a huge crowd is expected to turn out to catch all the events, particularly the fast-paced action provided by the superboats.
OSC President Adam Gilbert said the opening round off Newcastle handed the crews a tough opening, with many left with mechanical issues to solve after big seas battered the fleet.
'Teams have been busy almost since then, preparing their boats and engines for the North Queensland events,' he said.
'We are expecting a full field to contest the two-race format off Mackay and there’ll be excellent spectator viewing off the Mackay Marina,' he added.
The competitors will race in three separate classes; ‘first grade’ is the Supercat 1000, thundering, four-tonne catamarans powered by dual 525hp gasoline engines capable of topping 20 kilometres an hour on ‘good water.’
Remaining two classes feature outboard powered boats in Supercat 600 and Supercat 400, all very quick craft boasting dual outboard installations.
Adam Gilbert suggests the offshore racers, allied with the Mackay Marine Festival, will deliver hundreds of thousands of dollars into the local economy.
'Last year was the inaugural Mackay Marine Festival and it attracted a huge crowd,' he recalled.
'This year, we’re expecting an even larger turnout,' he added.
The Maritimo Offshore Race Team, fielding the catamaran ‘Maritimo Mainlube Express’ began its season in the best possible way with a win at Newcastle and deserves favouritism at Mackay.
With driver Darren Nicholson and throttleman Peter McGrath aboard, this is one boat that will be very hard to beat.
Nevertheless, if local knowledge can play a role, don’t discount another similar boat built and maintained by Maritimo, but raced as ‘The Good Guys’ by local due, brothers Brendan and Christopher Frier.
They finished second to ‘Maritimo Mainlube Express’ at Newcastle and were not far off the pace.
'It’s good to be competing in our home waters, perhaps a little more pressure on us to perform well at Mackay, but we have good support here and we’re really looking forward to racing,' he said.
Another local, Scott Gehrmann will team with Graham Fraser in ‘GSK Marine/BBC Digital’ in Supercat 600.
A snapped drive shaft off Newcastle ended their hopes of a perfect start to the season.
'That has been fixed and we’ve made a few other modifications and we’re ready to go,' Scott declared.
'Neither I nor Graham like losing and we’re looking forward to snaring our first points of the season and close the gap between us and first round winner ‘Kwozzy 2’ he added.
In Supercat 400, experienced duo Mick Walker and Gary Smith are keen to see their boat ‘Phantom’ perform to its maximum to enable them to stretch their lead after winning at Newcastle.
They had to withstand a severe challenge from the father and son team of Michael and Gryff Ethell in ‘Team 88’ and know they could again be involved in a tough race.
Spectators will see the action opening with the Pole Position Shootout timed for 1pm on the Saturday (June 23).
Sunday, the event being in the two-race format, will see 11am and 1.30pm races to determine who heads to Townsville as a winner.
by Bob Wonders
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4:46 AM Thu 21 Jun 2012GMT
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