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2024 Offshore Superboat Championship – Brutal and brilliant at Wyndham Harbour

Saturday’s brutal conditions took their toll on both crew and boats alike. It is a good thing then that the brilliant sunshine on both days of the weekend was able to effectively spotlight the efforts that the teams had gone to in order to participate not only so competitively, but also for the entire weekend.

Taking out the Wyndham Harbour weekend – The Mantis – Matt Kelly, Tevita Lesuma from Wyndham Harbour, and Antony de Fina

Sore bodies managed to recover quickly, and many a loose bolt got tightened up on Sunday morning as the teams prepared for a much calmer time on the water. All in all, the contrasts reflected the overall weather pattern where teams had arrived into 38 degrees Celsius, experienced the rapid and distinct changes Melbourne is so well renowned for, to then race in just 21 degrees and a very stiff Sou’wester, before Sunday saw the Mercury get back over 30 degrees and witness the warmer Nor’wester try and stave off the cooler, yet now benign Sou’wester. The latter eventually won that particular battle, by the way, but not before a grand arm wrestle had taken place.

Possibly the only thing bigger than Saturday’s conditions were the smiles on the competitors and spectators alike. Coming around the corner 10 boats wide, as they did in the SuperSports 65 class was a treat for all. The crowds also enjoyed the close-in action at the wet pits, together with the ability to speak with the mariners directly. Speaking of immersion, the winners of the lucky draw to become part of the commentary team, and also get to sit inside a Supercat Outboard vessel, were just about as delighted as the racers.

Two teams excelled. In the SuperSports 85 class, Jason Kelly and Jesse King in The Colonel seemed to have taken off exactly where they left off. Three from three is a grand effort, and they can be justly proud of that. More than ever they were challenged all the way. Firstly, by Ryan Shan and Scott Kelly in RS Racing that is simply getting fast and faster, almost catching up to its great new paintjob. They are just two rounds into their new boat, so this team will simply get better and better, and as long as they do not break out (break over 1mph more than their limit), they will be a force soon enough.

Ryan Shan and Scott Kelly just keep getting faster and faster in RS Racing

Rookies had a win – Rennie Cogliandro and Charlie Di Iorio

It also has to be said that in the 85mph class, C-52, which is Haydn Waszewski and Zak Gould just got better and better as the weekend wore on. A new pairing, and a new Mercury 300R engine to go with that, had them right up at the lead during Sunday’s final race. The vessel’s appearance is about as sublime as their climb up to the front, and they have more than enough stealth fighter about them to be something to watch out for in Geelong.

The SuperSports 65 class had to be all about the newcomers, all of whom are deeply imbued into the fabric of the sport after the weekend. Whether new to the sport or crossing over from other activities like ski racing, the teams served it right up to class stalwarts like Mark and Liam Sutherland in Team Gigglin’, as well as Hary Bakkr and Shane Patton.

Setting up the march of the newcomers were Patty and Michael Paczkowski in Valentus, who took away the first win on Saturday. Danny and Dean Caelli in Villian went 3, 2, 1 over the weekend to really make a stamp on their intentions. Their delight was as evident as the enthusiasm of their shore crew.

Classic entrée to the sport – Danny and Dean Caelli

Also going three from three were Matt Kelly and Antony de Fina in, The Mantis. The first team to really hone in the new Mercury Racing 300R V8 outboard, this team have the boat well and truly dialled in now, achieving a maximum velocity of over 180km/h in nearly all conditions.

The Mantis displayed blistering speed all weekend in all conditions.

Whilst it is brutal to the occupants, and they do lose a few kilos each race due to heat and workload, the flat attitude of the vessel, together with the way they accelerate once more after being airborne is bordering on ridiculous, and a true credit to both driver Kelly and throttleman de Fina. The motors might be whisper quiet, as too the mariners, but the scoreboard utterly screams from the rooftops.

Wyndham City Mayor Cr Jennie Barrera said, “The warm weather and challenging conditions made the Wyndham Harbour round of the Offshore Superboat Championship very entertaining. It was a picture-perfect location and showcased our beautiful coastline, reinforcing Wyndham City’s capacity to host major water sport events.”

Three from three for The Colonel

Greg Walters in the Hun 74

Australian Offshore Powerboat Club Commodore, Antony de Fina said, “This was a tremendous way to get things off and running for 2024 Offshore Superboat Championship. Of particular note was the number of ‘rookie’ day racers we attracted to Wyndham Harbour, and how well they did. I don’t think we have ever had to throw that many people into the water at any event previously.”

“All of us particularly enjoyed the varying conditions, which the crowds definitely seemed to have sat, watched, and then later on come and talked with us about. Having the wet pits so close to the finish line is such a marvellous element, and something that is so particular to Wyndham Harbour.”

“Next up is Geelong over the weekend of March 16 and 17. All the teams are very much looking forward to being there in the great natural amphitheatre that is Corio Bay, with all of its terrific vantage points.”

“Many thanks to Wyndham Council, Wyndham Harbour, and all of the personnel and volunteers that come together to make this event possible.”

Hary Bakkr and Shane Patton in the Nut Case.

Welcome back to racing – Mark Swain and Laura Wilson.

The media team would like to specifically thank Matthew Michaelides for ensuring they could get out on the water to capture the action.

Results, videos, and information at