Extreme 40 racing with Tony Longhurst

Club Marine catches up with motoracing driver Tony Longhurst at 2016 Hamilton Island Race Week. Tony shares some insight on what it takes to win - and opens up on some of his tougher days...
Tony Longhurst: Hi, I'm Tony Longhurst, racing at Hamilton Island Race Week, on the Extreme 40.

We came up last week for the first time in ... We had a little 30 foot Grainger, a little red boat, and we did very well last year. We really enjoyed it and I was amazed at the atmosphere. How many boaties are here and how much fun they have and how competitive it is. And we thought for our business The Boat Works, it's important to be involved in sailing and boating and so we thought we'd go out and get this boat and try to make a statement and get plenty of publicity for our business and our sponsors.

Up here we've got 250 boats. I know there's all different divisions and the way everything's handicapped, but what I found with the sailing, it is very, very intense. It's very, very competitive and in that, you've got to source sponsorship. Get the money to fund the team and make sure you can make a living out of it and always have the best equipment.

Then you've got to have a team around you. You've gotta get the right people so you've got to finish every race and not make a mistake. And when you get a good crew together it gets easier and easier. But, I shouldn't say it gets easier, but the success is there if you've got the right people around you.

To sail the boat very fast, you need very good crew members on board. The boats always got to be adjusted. You can't leave it for a moment. If you leave it at all in probably over 10, 15 knots of breeze and you make a mistake, it can tip over very, very easily. So you've gotta have professional guys operating this boat.

Our team wanna win. The team next to us wanna win. The team over there, and you know, it's an aggressive, intense sport and if someone cuts you off or does something wrong, it seems to always be the other bloke's fault but like everything these days, you can't make a mistake.

I had 25 years as a professional motor sport driver, car racer. The third fastest person ever on water skis, so that's a pretty good achievement. I set that in 1978 so nearly 40 years ago, at 201 km an hour, but when it doesn't go right it really does something with your head.

On the first day of the event at Hammo we were actually obviously leading our division, and we'd set the boat up really nice. We were hooking across the channel back towards Den Island.

Main hay has snapped where it joins the head board so we're not sure whether it's frayed through or whatever. Just a bang and the sail comes down. I tell ya it was like, we might as well just sat there and blow our brains out. We were so devastated because we really wanted to get the event.

And obviously it's snapped under pressure.

This is an Extreme 40 day. Last racing in Sydney. The end of last year, December, they brought the circus out. I think there's about a dozen of these boats throughout the world. But these I think three or four years ago were a boat that the guys would compete on to take a step to train to get onto the America's Cup boats. They're a very solid, good boat. It's very, very fast.

I don't mind saying, we bought the boat for 100 Euro and we had to pay duty and tax, so it owed us about 220,000 dollars. We've done a bit of sign writing so it's probably 250. And if you look at having potentially the fastest boat in Australia for 250 grand, this is a great deal. And what we hope is a few other guys buy some of these boats so we can get three or four Extreme 40s racing here. And then we'd put on a really good show.

Top speed I think we've got up to about 25 knots, but it's very comfortable. It seems to range 15 to 23 knots. It hovers just under 20 knots in all breezes. And what we've learned over the last 10 days doing Airlie Beach and then coming to Hammo, is it can run in a lot of different conditions. So it's good in 25 knots and it's fantastic in 10 knots, so it's a great boat. The other thing that's really amazing, it's so nimble. It's like a go kart. So any adjustment, whether you're at the helm or adjusting the sail, the boat responds very quickly, positively or negatively and it's fun to be on. It gets up on one hull very, very easily. It glides along and it's a thrill to be on board.

Yeah. It's great that we've got Club Marine on board. All my boats have been insured by Club Marine over the past decade or two and now with The Boat Works, it's good that we're getting a strong involvement with Club Marine. We wanna grow that so any insurance claims on it come through the yard so they're a very, very professional organization. Very slick group of guys. They're young, energetic, so it's a good tie-up with The Boat Works.

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