by Bob Wonders
Fort Denison, the historic icon built on the reef once known as ‘Pinchgut’ has overseen events on Sydney Harbour for 157-years, but it’s doubtful the fort and its unique Martello Tower had ever experienced anything like it.
Powering down Sydney Harbour
‘It’ was Bill Barry-Cotter’s awesome offshore racer, ‘Maritimo’, “cruising” past the island at blistering pace as the powerhouse catamaran delivered noise evaluations for the forthcoming Sydney Superboat Grand Prix scheduled for the weekend of March 8 and 9.
Maritimo Offshore crew chief Peter McGrath was at the boat’s throttles with Tom Barry-Cotter, only 20-years-old, but with first hand experience contesting the tough European offshore circuit, at the wheel.
McGrath described the 220km/hr sprint as “rather deadly. With ferries, official boats, police boats and recreational craft on the harbour we really had to keep our minds on the job,” he said.
“We headed out to the straight line course at an easy 65km/hr, just to catch up with the escorting police boat and then tweaked the throttles up to deliver about 95km/hr. “At first, I think the government people aboard the official boat thought that was our top speed. “When we really opened up and hit 220km/hr plus at 6000rpm it just blew them away.
“They just couldn’t believe it,” he added.
NSW Tourism Minister Matt Brown expressed total enthusiasm for the forthcoming event.
“The Sydney Superboat Grand Prix will showcase Sydney Harbour to international sporting audiences,” he declared.
“Melbourne may have the Formula I Grand Prix, the Gold Coast as the Indy Cars and Perth has the Red Bull air races, but Sydney will have the spectacular Superboat Grand Prix,” he added.
The Superboat Grand Prix will be the highlight in an array of activities celebrating Sydney Harbour Week in March 2008.
More than two-years of hard work and planning have been invested into making it a week to remember.
The Superboat Grand Prix will see Sydney Harbour closed to all major shipping movements for two-hours each day, primarily for safety reasons.
NSW Maritime will position 150 buoys to mark the course and distinguish exclusion zones for the many recreational boaters expected to turn out to watch the excitement.
At least 30 patrol vessels will be on course to enforce the exclusion zones.
Bill Barry-Cotter, CEO of the award-winning Gold Coast yard Maritimo and the driving force behind the sport, expects to campaign three boats.
“We’ll be running two ‘Maritimo’ boats and last year’s Australian Class I champion, ‘Simrad’ in the Grand Prix,” he explained.
“Another Gold Coaster, Steve Searle, expects to run two boats and all up I expect at least 12, possibly up to 17 starters.
“It will provide Sydney Harbour with a magnificent spectacle,” he added.
Peter McGrath and Tom Barry-Cotter said they were “tremendously excited” at the prospect of the event.
“It will be an event to remember,” McGrath said.
“The boat pulled up well the other day, the big V9 MerCruisers, which delivered about 1200hp each, performed flawlessly.
“We’ll be expecting a similar performance from our other boats, one of which boasts two high-tech V12 Lamborghini engines,” he added.
As the name ‘offshore’ implies, spectator viewing of these astonishing superboats is usually restricted to those fortunate enough to be aboard boats that can access parts of the course.
For the Sydney Superboat Grand Prix spectators will find vantage points galore to see the most amazing contest in Sydney Harbour’s chequered history.
It’s an event not to be missed.