Two-time World Champion Wayne Mawer has won the inaugural Nautilus Marine Ski Racing Championship with the 99 Psycho Clowns Racing team.
Mawer, driver Daniel McMahon and observer Ian Baker had built such a lead going into today’s final race that they only needed to finish to secure the $20,000 winner’s prize – which they did with a solid second place.
Two second places for 99 Psycho Clowns and Wayne Mawer was enough to win the inaugural Nautilus Marine Ski Racing Championship. After 40,000 people lined the shores of Newcastle Harbour for Saturday’s running as part of the Newcastle Maritime Festival, only the most foolhardy – and waterproof – dared emerge for the torrential rain pouring down on Race 6.
In heavy rain and poor visibility, ‘The Clowns’ ran with title challenger Peter Procter behind Hellbent early, before being slowed on the inside behind traffic. The Championship leaders played it safe from there as Procter and Team Hell got a good run through the same traffic to extend their lead.
Procter scored his third win of the championship, tying with Mawer for race wins – a mechanical failure at the first round in Redcliffe, seeing the Team Hell skier fighting an uphill battle.
In Newcastle, Procter tamed the rough conditions on Saturday and the smoother water of Sunday to clean sweep the final round.
Jake Tegart had his strongest weekend of the championship behind Merc Force, with his two best results of the series; fourth on Saturday, and his first podium with third today.
The result saw him overtake Mark Weaver for third in the championship after Burnin encountered mechanical difficulties. Weaver and his Noel Griffin Racing crew had been running in second behind Hellbent, before retiring just after mid-race.
Earlier, both heats were cancelled after a dangerous seas warning caused the many ships anchored off Newcastle to head into the harbour, resulting in a one off Final this morning to settle the championship (grid positions were set in championship order after Race 5).
The two-time World Champ named winning the championship as one of his career highlights.
“Honestly, this is probably the best thing that’s ever happened to ski racing in Australia,” said Mawer.
“It’s a hard series, it’s not a walkover at all – the races are short, but they’re intense and there’s a lot of them.
“I’m closer to the end of my time in the sport than the start of it, so to be a part of it, to win it for the first time, it’s a proud moment for me.”
Peter Procter won both races in Newcastle with Team Hell, but it was not enough.
For Procter, it was a bittersweet day, clean sweeping the Newcastle event, but falling short in the championship chase.
“Realistically, we knew it was unlikely we could get Wayne, but we just had to win both races,” said Procter.
“We were tied on points with Mark Weaver going into today, so we were mostly focused on beating him to second in the championship.
“I’m ecstatic with second. I’m here to win – even the heats – it’s disappointing not to win, but over the six races 99 Psycho Clowns were the most consistent and they deserved it.
“We want to come back and get them next year.”
Jake Tegart was shocked to find himself on the Championship podium, after heading to Newcastle seventh in the points standings.
“Yesterday we seemed to get it together,” said Tegart. “We got third in both heats, and then we got fourth in the final.
“I wasn’t too happy with that after I’d been third in the heats – but we got another third in today’s race and it’s bumped us right up there.
“I’d never really done any previous short course F1 racing, behind these big boats against the world’s best – at the start I was pretty rusty, but we’ve got better and better throughout the three weekends of racing.
“Coming up against guys like Pete and Wayne, who are just in another league again… Just competing against them and seeing what they do really pushes you.
“Some of the other guys had some pretty bad luck today, but to come in third is great.”