Thirty-five knot winds from the south-east blew all weekend off Mackay as the second round of the 2011 Offshore Superboat Championships (OSC) was held off the North Queensland coastal city.
Staged in a two-race format in the second OSC visit to the venue, the conditions certainly put boats, engines and crews to the test.
Sadly, the eagerly-awaited clash between ‘Mustang’ and ‘Maritimo’ in Class 1 was something of a non event; a dislodged fuel line prevented defending champions Tom Barry-Cotter and Pal Virik Nilsen from making it to the start line aboard ‘Mustang’ for the first race.
They were still off the pace in race two won convincingly by ‘Maritimo’ with 2005 Australian champions Luke Durman (driver) and Ross Willaton (throttles) aboard.
Class 1 Melbourne entry, ‘Jaeger Group’ did not start and may not contest the 2011 championships at all, apparently due to a sponsorship situation.
There was some exciting racing in the smaller classes despite a number of boats failing to finish.
‘Team 3’, Steve Nugent (driver) and Travis Thompson (throttles) aboard the former Victory catamaran, could not have been happier with their first hit out.
They claimed third in race one, only five seconds behind second place-getter ‘Global Racing’ and reversed that with more than a lap advantage to greet the chequered flag in race two.
Mike Beil (driver) and Steve Jellick (throttles) aboard ‘Global Racing’ now trail ‘Team 3’ by the barest margin, 25 points, on the leader board.
Despite one DNF, ‘The Good Guys’ remains Supercat Lite leader after winning in Newcastle and in race one off Mackay to earn 1625 points, 250 ahead of ‘Team 3.’
It may only be early days as far as the 2011 championships is concerned, but at this stage it would appear safe to say the Supercat Outboard class could by won by anyone.
‘Kwozzy 2’, ‘BBC Digital’ (formerly raced as Berwicks), ‘SUV Dodge Ram’ and ‘Saracen’ are all capable of taking out the 2011 class championship.
Unfortunately, ‘Kwozzy 2’, Jim Harris and Paul Fowlds aboard, sustained what is feared to be a blown engine after winning the opening race while the ‘Saracen’ crew, Antony DeFina and Nigel Craven still need some work on the boat before adding to their opening round win off Newcastle.
Graham Fraser (driver) and Scott Gehrman (throttles) in ‘BBC-Digital’ were well satisfied with a second behind ‘Kwozzy 2’ in race one and a victory in race two; the two boats now share the series lead, each having totalled 1525 points to lead ‘SUV Dodge Ram’ (1350 points) and ‘Saracen’ (1075).
Supercat Outboard Lite Defending champions, Mick Walker (driver) and Gary Smith (throttles) have again thrown down the gauntlet and made it clear that to win this class one has to beat ‘FGI.’
Consistency won the title for them last year and things are already looking very similar with ‘FGI’ nailing down two firsts and a second from three starts.
Paul Gibbs (driver) and Gryff Ethell (throttles) have produced a sound effort in ‘Hog’s Breath’ and with a first and two seconds are only 100 points adrift of ‘FGI.’
‘It’s About Time’, Mark Taylor and Adam Nicolls aboard, finished third in both races.
Two other Supercat Outboard Lite entries are yet to start a race in 2011.
They are ‘Shaken Not Stirred’ and ‘Grumpy Mongrel’, while another, ‘Number 8’, failed to start at Mackay after a DNF off Newcastle.
Adam Gilbert, president of OSC, described the Mackay meeting as 'hugely successful.'
'The conditions certainly proved testing for all competitors, but we could not have been happier with the overall conduct of the racing and the organisation,' he added.
Adam had another good reason to be pleased with the situation; he is also the owner of ‘Team 3’, the boat he acquired from the Victory team after a previous boat was smashed to matchwood off Redcliffe several seasons back.
'The boat ran as well as it presented, very pleased with its performance,' he said.
'If there’s any change for this coming weekend off Townsville we may make a ratio change to the drop box, but that’s about all,' he added.
The boats and crews are now making their way up the Bruce Highway for the Townsville Offshore Grand Prix set for Saturday and Sunday (July 2-3).