Hmmmm! The smell of high octane and the rumble and roar of high-performance engines. For lovers of high-performance watercraft, late summer in Victoria may well be the ultimate destination.

Let’s start with the Club Marine Southern 80, the world’s biggest water ski race. Held on the first weekend in February each year, upwards of 400 entrants battle the 80-kilometre stretch of the Murray River through more than 100 bends, to reach the finish line at Echuca.

Massive ground thumping, supercharged V8s compete against twin-rig outboards as they race the clock to be the fastest boat over the distance. All this while towing two waterskiers.

This year the race was won by the very impressive Blown Budget owned by Victorian Mike Dominguez, missing out on the race record by only 19 seconds.

The superbly presented boat performed faultlessly over the weekend and if Mike can maintain this level of reliability he may be looking after the trophy for a few more years to come.

Then on the following weekend, the opening round of the Club Marine Powerboat series got underway. Hosted by the Sandringham Yacht Club, the weekend saw fabulous weather with flat seas across Port Phillip Bay.

Being the first hit-out, many teams experienced first race gremlins, but nothing was going to stop Bill Barry-Cotter from taking out the Class One season opener with his spectacular white race boat Riviera.

Large crowds watched from the shore as the awesome boats reached speeds of more than 220km/h in the near perfect conditions.

The second round of the series was held the very next weekend at Geelong. Once again the weather gods were smiling on the race directors, as warm and sunny conditions greeted the competitors. With barely a breeze to be felt, the race proceeded to run to a predictable script, until Class Two favourites Tony Low and Simon Isherwood in their triple-rig Smorgan Steel picked up a length of fishing line which damaged the gearbox of one engine. But their lead was such that they still managed a credible second place behind Rumler Racing.

The Class One race was once again taken out by Bill Barry-Cotter onboard Riviera. As I observed this dominating boat careering around the course, I noticed that it seemed to float above the water, while all the other boats still appeared to be displacing water to some degree. Maybe this is Bill’s secret, who knows?

But whatever his secret is, he’s certainly attracted enough interest and concern from the international governing body who have decided to ban his reliable high-performance diesel race engines. This, I’m sure, will only spur Bill on to even greater things.

As in 2002, Club Marine has once again sponsored the Australian Offshore Powerboat Club’s race series. Coverage of this series of six races, two races each in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland, will be shown on the SBS network during their Speedweek program, keep a look out for it, you won’t be disappointed.

Also in this issue we feature some of the best action photographs from the Sail Melbourne Regatta shot by Jeff Crow; Amanda Lulham profiles the Tardrew brothers who have their sights set on Olympic selection; Graham Lloyd talks with father and son team Gunther and Butch Pfrengle, who set a power boat record from Sydney to Hobart; Chris Caswell went to the Miami Boat Show where the emphasis was on high-performance and Warren Steptoe goes barra fishing in Central Queensland – again.

Enjoy the magazine and remember that your safety is our top priority.

Paul Wilson, Chief Executive Officer, Club Marine Ltd.