HIGH-SPEED ACTION: Newcastle Harbour will host a SuperFoiler Grand Prix event. Promoters are promising ‘short, sharp, action-packed races’ in the series, which begins in December. THERE will be no Kiwis on bicycles, but if the America’s Cup has whet your appetite for high-speed, foil-borne sailing then just wait till you see what’s coming to Newcastle.
Hot on the heels of the supercars and superboats, the newly launched SuperFoiler Grand Prix has added a Newcastle Harbour event to its national circuit that commences in December.
At the heart of the action will be six 26-foot trimarans manned by three crew, two of whom are on skiff-like trapezes. Capable of 40 knots, the SuperFoiler is said to be world’s fastest foiling one-design racing class with the highest power-to-weight ratio of any wind-powered boat.
America’s Cup and leading foiling sailors from New Zealand, the US, China, France and Australia will be targeted for the series, set to be raced over three-days at venues in South Australia, Western Australia, Victoria, Newcastle and Sydney Harbour.
Promoters Bill Macartney and son Jack have lined up the Seven Network to televise the series, just as they did when Bill brought 18-Foot skiff racing into lounge rooms in the 1990s. Unparalleled onboard and aerial vision, backed by colourful commentary, is his style.
Jack Macartney says it took a leap of faith and more than a few dollars to realise their vision.
“The SuperFoiler concept was not to conform to any existing geometry or platform but rather create something that gave the foils structure to function and flotation to launch off while being highly aerodynamic,” he said.
“The power and efficiency that you feel when you are sailing, it really takes your breath away … It’s definitely not for the faint-hearted.”
Foils are arguably the biggest ever technological shift in sailboat racing, freeing the vessel of conventional hydrodynamic drag to fly above the surface at speeds up to three times faster than the wind.
“For those who remember the passion of crews on board the Prudential, Ella Bache and AAMI on the 18 Foot Skiff Grand Prix, the SuperFoilers will deliver all of this and more,” Bill Macartney added.
“Short, sharp, action-packed races will exhilarate crowds as they embrace a virtual experience of racing.
“When we produced the 18-footer coverage we demonstrated that coverage of racing with advanced machines could be very exciting, particularly by showing the on-board experience.
“When we sold out of it, no one picked it up. Sailing went back to dots on the horizon, the way it has always been covered.”
The inspiration for the venture came from watching the previous America’s Cup on TV.
“The extraordinary spectacle of those America’s Cup catamarans suddenly rising up out of the water was like nothing I’ve ever seen before,” Bill said.
“There was a whole new dimension to the sport because the hull becomes superfluous once it’s up on foils.”
NSW Sports Minister Stuart Ayres launched the SuperFoiler last week, saying the Grand Prix will bring a new energy to Australian sport.
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