The 2001 Offshore Powerboat Racing series held in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland thrilled thousands of spectators onshore and hundreds of thousands on national and international television. Now Club Marine Insurance brings you the 2002 Australian Offshore Powerboat Championships to be contested over six rounds.

The competition in the three classes is fierce. None more so than in the high-tech Class One division. These awesome racers, with engines producing 2600 horsepower, charge over the race course at 150mph throwing up huge rooster tails behind them.

The Class 2 division this year sees some new boats including Riviera Racing's 140mph state-of-the-art racer that has recently returned from Abu Dhabi after placing third in the world championships. Riviera 2 is being driven by Keith Hanson and Ross Willaton.

Race boats competing in the Class Three division include six-litre, four-litre, National A-Class, Australian Cruiser and Production boats.

At the time of writing two rounds of the series had been completed in Victoria at St Kilda and Geelong. Riviera Racing's Class One boat driven by Paul Lingard and Bill Barry-Cotter from Queensland has taken an early outright lead in the series over Steve Ackerie and Peter "Mudguard" McGrath driving Stefan also from Queensland. Although, Riviera's Class One boat will not be competing in the final rounds of the series as the boat is being shipped to France for the start of an international campaign starting in June at Marseilles. This leaves the way open for Steve Ackerie to take out the series, which finishes on the Gold Coast in June.

Other notable teams include Steve and Andrew Searle driving Acme a former Class One world champion and in Class Two Tony Low and Simon Isherwood in Smorgan Steel and John and Sean Rumler's M8, which took out a class win at Geelong.

Paul Wilson, Chief Executive Officer of Club Marine said: " The 2002 Club Marine Insurance Australian Offshore Powerboat Championships is a dynamic, world-class event for us to be involved in. We have always supported the needs of boat owners and strive to make boating safer and more enjoyable.

"This exciting series is yet another way we are promoting the entire sport of boating as it puts boats in the public spotlight in a compelling and dramatic way."

Paul Lingard and Bill Barry-Cotter.
Class Three winners at Geelong Mark Gilbert and Leigh Trevaskis of Global Racing

The Sydney rounds were held during April and round five of the series will be held at Mooloolaba on 25-26 May and round six at Southport on 1-2 June.

You can also catch all the action on SBS, Fox Sports and Austar through the Speedweek program and on Saturn TV in New Zealand. Check local guides for telecast times. Footnote: In Europe, the UIM World Offshore Powerboat Racing series outstrips Formula One motor racing in spectator appeal. Hundreds of thousands regularly turn up to Mediterranean events, while billions watch worldwide TV broadcasts.