Offshore Challenge attracts national interest

Boaters from around Australia register for epic 800nm boat rally

Offshore Challenge attracts national interest
Offshore Challenge attracts national interest

The organisers of the Australian Offshore Challenge said boaters from all over Australia have expressed interest in participating in the February 2011 Bass Strait Rally.

The event is said to be Australia’s first serious attempt at providing a large scale, marathon-style event for recreational production-grade grade powerboats. The 800nm event takes place along some of Australia’s best coastal waterways and involves crossing Bass Strait.

Teams are said to have registered from as far as Perth, Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne and even Cardwell in far north Queensland. However, said the organisers, the strongest interest so far is from Tasmanian boaters, with the number of registrations from Tasmanian teams well above expectations.

One Tasmanian, Tony Johnstone from Swansea, described how much he was looking forward to participating.

"We see the Offshore Challenge as a fantastic opportunity to explore the Bass Strait islands in Grey Pearl, our 8m Tri-Star alloy hardtop," said Johnstone. "We regularly fish off the Tasmanian east coast from Pedra Branca Rock in the Southern Ocean to St Helens along the Bay of Fires coast," he said.

Other boats to join Tony include a 7.3m Whittley Sea Legend, two Haines Hunter 680Fs, a 600hp alloy catamaran, a 150hp Haines Hunter Breeze, a 6.5m Trailcraft and at least one custom-built, twin-Volvo-powered alloy sportscruiser from Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula.
According to the organisers, the wide range of boat sizes and engines will not be a problem as each entrant will compete in a class that matches similarly configured craft. The emphasis is on navigation rather than speed and the Challenge is intended to appeal to powerboat owners of all experience levels.

The 11-day event begins in Hobart on February 23, 2011. Participants need to navigate a set course along the Tasmanian east coast to the small harbour town of Lady Barron on Flinders Island. After a weekend of on-shore activities, the teams will island-hop their way across Bass Strait, stopping overnight at Deal Island and on to a spectacular finale across Port Phillip, to finish near Melbourne’s Docklands.

Visit or call (03) 9867 6666 for more information.

Pic: The Grey Pearl.

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