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2023 Offshore Superboat Championship – Hot racing for Superboats in hot sun at Lake Macquarie

It was both close and interesting as mechanical issues plagued many a craft, and fortunes were won and lost out on the track.

AOPC Commodore, Antony de Fina, with lake Macquarie City Councillor, Adam Shulz

Councillor Adam Shultz, attended Friday evening’s meet and greet held at Empire Marina at Marmong Point, and very much immersed himself in the experience. Speaking at the event, he said, “It’s fantastic to see everyone here again. I believe the event’s been running for seven years now, since 2016.”

“Lake Macquarie City Council is really proud to continue to support it. If I had my way, it would be indefinite support. It’s just wonderful to see all the visitors, the activity and the teams getting together for this social event. I’m really looking forward to an action packed weekend.”

Well he definitely got his wish, and this was echoed by the thousands of spectators that lined the shores of Lake Macquarie from Eleebana to Warners Bay, thence on to Speers Point and ultimately Marmong Point. Shade and chairs were the hot items at these spots.

The two SuperSports classes had the double races today, and tomorrow it will be the turn of the two enclosed cabin classes to have a pair of races. In the SuperSport 85 class, Ryan Shan was using his new boat for just the third time. It was going really well for them, and in the second race they really started to make a charge. Unfortunately, a drive shaft in the gearbox failed and they had to retire.

The Royal Australian Navy Cadets get a guided tour of 222 Offshore Racing

Back at the pit area you would not have known, for the beaming owner was just so excited about how well it was all going for his team. “We’ll be racing tomorrow. It was awesome fun, and made the last two weeks of hell (getting the boat ready after it landed in AUS) worth it.”

In terms of their ability to get faster and faster, Shan said, “We just felt more and more confident, especially in the corners, which meant we could just get keep on going up.”

Andrew Pike’s Slick 21 are about to also get a new boat, so it was unfortunate that the current boat had issues in the second race, as well. If they do well in tomorrow’s race they will secure second, which they are delighted about, given the tussle they have had with Gigglin’ all season.

A great first race today was followed by issues in the second. “We had a bit of an oil problem, and the motor went into limp mode. So we had to pull on the infield and bleed the tank up on top of the motor. It was good to get back circulating and get some points.”

“We have fixed it back ashore now and want to achieve a first or second place tomorrow to put some points in the bank, and lock away a prize.”

Not only was the racing close, so too was their performance, achieving an average of 64.9 in that first race, and you cannot get much better than that.

Thoughts were definitely with Superbad, who blew an engine in their only race of the day. Prior to that, Superbad was literally flying, and everyone noticed. Alas, blue smoke is never a good sign, so when a thin veil appeared over on the Eastern side of the course, hearts literally sank.

Throttleman, Steve Jellick, said, “As soon as you start a race engine, sometimes you just got to think how long are they going to last for? These engines have been really good for the last three or four years, so have been running for a while. We knew that they were just about at the retirement stage, and they just went a bit too early…”

Superbad’s new screws were also doing a fine job, up until disaster struck. Superbad was so quick, and we had some of the tightest racing in this blisteringly quick of classes that we have seen to date, which is no doubt part of the reason everyone was as collapsed as the broken motor.

Jellick added, “We were a little bit unsure about it all, because obviously we didn’t want to do any testing on these ageing motors. We had a good idea on where we needed to be, and we were pretty much on the money. A massive thank you to 222 for going to see if we can put one of their engines in for tomorrow.”

Reflecting on their ‘Rookie’ season, as it were, Jellick said,” It takes two to race, and Ryan is taking it on and absolutely loves it. We are having a ball. It is really close. We’re like a metre apart down, doing 130mph down the straights. In places they were probably a little bit quicker than us, and we were probably a little bit quicker than them in some others.”

Back ashore a rescue plan was hatched. In a truly magnificent gesture of sportsmanship, 222 Offshore got to work pulling out one of their spare engines to offer up as a temporary replacement. A busy night ahead for the crew, as they had to not only remove the blown engine, but then transfer the left engine over to the right engine bay and put the loaner motor into the now vacant bay in the left hull, as it worked better with the pulley arrangements for things like water pumps and steering.

Not the first time this season that 222 have shown their fine colours, either, and Darren Nicholson said, “Running with the Superbad boys was really good. They have certainly dialled up the boat a lot better than the previous owner had it. There was nothing between us. We could corner a little bit better, but we were settling down for a good 30 minutes of top notch racing.”

“I’m really hoping they can make the transplant happen, because Superbad made all the effort to get down here for this final round of the year. The least we can do is loan them an engine for tomorrow’s race and hopefully they’ll get round. I’ll probably be a bit of a giggle if they beat us with one of our engines.”

Showing true humour, Nicholson pondered, “I wonder if they beat us, do we get the title because it’s our engine in front? I wonder what the Race Director would have to say about that? If part of my boat wins, do 222 Offshore get all the points? Interesting…”

Earlier on in the day, the local Navy Cadets attended the pit area, where 222 gave them all a guided tour of their impressive facilities.

“We’ve had the air cadets through, and also lots of school kids. They might have been a bit subdued early on, but when they saw where a career path might take them they certainly livened right up”, said Nicholson in closing.

Gigglin’ have now secured the 2023 SuperSport 65 title, as along as they finish tomorrow. The boat looked really good, but just not as quick as usual. A very delighted Mark Sutherland commented, “We just came off a little bit just to preserve everything and lock it all away. Just a couple of miles an hour to make sure that we didn’t break today and secure the points that we needed for the championship. Everything is working fine, otherwise.”

“We just need to finish the race tomorrow. So we’ll go out there and just try and play it smart, but obviously we’ve still got to be competitive, too.”

Mike Ratcliffe from the all-conquering, The Sting, reflected on their new motors, “We were just getting used to the boat and setup, and discovered that it all needs to be altered (motors raised up and steering geometry), which we have now done. We wrapped up the Championship today, so tomorrow’s two races are all about our set up for next year. It will be a good day tomorrow, with a bit of wind up, so good stuff for us.”

Another boat to have an incredible day was The Mantis. They had teething problems at the start of the season after installing the new Mercury 300Rs, and the frustration was about as obvious as their monumental increase in pace today over earlier rounds.

“It wasn’t as straightforward at the start of the year as just bolting them on and there you go. They’re completely different engines with the way the gearboxes work and the lift and some other things. It took us a couple of months to get our head around it, but we’re happy now. It’s going very well”, said Antony de Fina.

They did have to back right off and check a few warning lights in the middle of that race, “We were waiting for it, as the port engine kept losing water pressure in those high-speed sweepers. So you shut down the engines, wait about 10 seconds for them to reset and off you go again. While we’re doing that, AMT whizzed past us, and then I’ll tell you what, it took us two or three laps to get around them.”

I think we’re going to have some ding-dong racing tomorrow with the Sting also getting faster and faster. They were catching us towards the end…”

Sunday’s racing commences at 1100am with the second race for the Supercat Outboard and Supercat Extreme classes. The two SuperSport classes have their final race at 12 noon, and then the two enclosed cockpit classes return for their last outing of the season at 1pm, and race again for another 30 minutes.

Presentations are back at Empire Marina at 4pm today, Sunday October 15.

Further information at

By Wally Tench