Powerboats make splash in Grafton
AN increased focus of fun on the water has the Australian Formula Powerboat Association primed to make a splash with Grafton’s public this weekend.
Round 2 of the popular series comes to the banks of the Clarence River from 8am tomorrow and Sunday.
In a watershed year for the fledgling association, spawned to focus on ‘getting juniors involved’ and increasing enjoyment for fans, between 5000 and 8000 people are expected to attend.
In 2004 the death of its competition predecessor, the Superboat Series, saw Craig Truslove, now Grand Prix president, form an everyman’s association. Drivers have a direct input on the direction of the series without interference from promoters. One of the biggest decisions involves limiting practice runs to a morning session and allowing more time for the real action. And this leaves fans as the winners.
“We were wanting to go racing but we didn’t want to go racing with a promoter,” Truslove said. “Rather being told what to do we all have a meeting and discus what we want to do. It’s about making it more fun.”
More than 300 drivers and crew members – many from Victoria, Western Australia and Queensland – should provide plenty of action.
Classes include Formula Futures, Mono Hull and Formula 1, 2 and 3 with each contesting three races on both days of competition.
The Formula 3 series is designed to attract junior participants.
“Most people have seen these on TV and they like them but there’s nothing like seeing them live,” said Truslove, who hopes to return the competition to Grafton for at least the next five years.
“And we are encouraging the kids to be part of it. The whole idea is to establish a relationship with the council.”
The series began in Taree in September and has also incorporated many NSW venues as well as the Gold Coast, Geelong and Hobart.
And it is hard to argue with the results.
Around 42 boats – up from the 13 which took part in the final Superboat Series six years ago – will compete for prizes. Truslove, who will compete in the Formula 1 event, says the ‘smell in the air’ is enough to get the blood pumping.
You just need to watch out for the tricky first corner, which could be a perfect vantage point to witness the carnage.
“It’s exciting. It keeps you on your toes,” Truslove said. “I’m happy to get out of my boat and watch the juniors. You have got to get around that first corner before you start making a move.”
Weather is likely to be the only chance of a spoilsport for the machines, which in the Formula 1 class can reach speeds of up to 240km/hr. The next round of the series will be in Geelong on March 27 and 28.
4pm – street parade
5pm-6pm – scrutineering
7pm – Welcome dinner
7am – Crews to the pit area
7.30am – scrutineering
8.30am – driver briefing anf breath test
9.30am – Formula Futures race1
10am – Practice session 1
11am – Mono class race 1
11.30am – Practice session 2
12.30pm – lunch
12.30pm – Formula Futures race 2
1pm – Mono Class race 2
1.30pm – Formula 3 race 1
2.15pm – Formula 2 race 1
3pm – Formula 1 race 1
4pm – course closed
7pm – dinner
8am – briefing and breath test
8.45am – Formula Futures race 3
9.15am – Practice session 3
10.15am – Mono class race 3
10.45am – Formula 3 race 2
11.30am – Formula 2 race 2
12.30pm – Formula 1 race 2
1pm – lunch
1pm – Formula Futures race 4
1.45pm – Formula 3 race 3
2.30pm – Mono class race 5
3pm – Formula 2 race 3
3.45pm – Formula 1 race 3
5pm – presentation
7.30pm – celebration dinner