Viewers of Seven's coverage of the Sydney Hobart yacht race yesterday had a preview of the next big TV yachting event... SuperFoiler racing.
The new sport - in which ultra-lightweight trimarans lifted out of the water on hydrofoils reach speeds up to 50 kph - leverages the latest video and broadcast technologies.
What America's Cup campaigner Nathan Outteridge calls "18-footers on steroids" is also a celebration of the advances since Sydney Harbour 18-foot skiff racing was developed as one of the major sporting events of the 1980s - ahead of the development of drones, GoPros, onboard mikes and the internet.
And of course, the boats themselves - which Channel Seven previewed after their Boxing Day race start coverage - which are a third faster than America's Cup catamarans and the fastest super-maxis making their way to Hobart right now.
Two decades after the final season of the 18-foot skiff Grand Prix, the father-and-son team of Bill and Jack Macartney are preparing to launch a new SuperFoiler Grand Prix event after raising $3 million and investing a reported $500,000 of their own money.
An attraction of the 18-footer coverage was the onboard experience, which will be replicated with the SuperFoilers - a contrast to what Macartney senior calls "dots on the horizon" yacht racing coverage.
SuperFoilers are 26-footers designed by California-based Morrelli & Melvin to an Australian concept, and sailed by a crew of three. With daggerboard-style hydrofoils, they reach unprecedented speeds of more than 40 knots, but stop suddenly when the hull returns to the water. "You are just on the trapeze ready to get catapulted," says Outteridge, whose team has already cracked the 65 kpm barrier in their sky-blue Euroflex.
Six boats vie for glory and the Ben Lexcen Trophy -presented to the boat with the highest cumulative total after five regattas (in South Australia, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia and New South Wales) - starting in Adelaide on February 2.
Pictured: SuperFoiler Euroflex (Picture Beau Outteridge)
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