Cool boat people

grey Cool boat peopleSo the other day I asked what do a plumber, supercharged methanol burning V8’s and Cassonova racing in boats have in common. I will start at the beginning…

Last Monday the main sewer draining my rental property blocked up with tree roots so I called my mate Chris who owns a Plumbing business. Chris is quite formidable, he is quietly spoken and shaped like a triangle. In his shed Chris climbs ropes with huge weights tied to his ankles for fun, from the back he has the profile of Mr Strong except that he is not red. I know no other human being as powerful as Chris. He was the Australian Judo champion for umpteen years and, despite only ever being friendly toward me I tend to choose my words carefully around him. Chris assured me that a plumber would be at my house directly with a root cutting/pipe unblocker thing so conversation turned towards fun stuff;

“So where are you these days Ben?”

“Just near Woolongong, doing a bit of work and a bit of Paragliding”

“Still climbing mountains”

“Nah mate, not recently, about to get into the training again though, I’m getting fat. What about you mate?”

“I’m on the road to Sydney, racing this weekend at Penrith, you should come up, say G’day. Noodles will be there”

“Hell yeah, I’m free, Penrith eh”

“Racing at the old Olympic rowing course, world champs”

“Sounds good man, see you there, good luck”


This is how I got to be stepping out of my Mum’s pastel blue Honda Jazz last Saturday morning to the tune of stupidly large V8 engines burning fuel at a furious rate. I stole mums car when she left for Jakarta, was getting sick of the motorbike in rain. Chris’s boat “Outlaw” burns about 120 litres of Methanol over a 3 lap race. The power of these engines is felt in the stomach more than seen. I mean, when you see a boat skitting at 140+ mph (or 225 kmph) over water the brain cannot compute the sight, like if you saw a sheep running to overtake you on the freeway. For some reason the sound of these engines make me want to both void my bowels and dance with excitement.

grey Cool boat peopleI walk beside the lake and spot Chris’s white boat in a race. Chris races his big boat in the unlimited category, this means that you can do whatever you want, you could even strap a jet engine to the back of your boat if you thought it could negotiate the corners. Most people choose huge methanol burning V8’s similar to those used in NASCAR races (One especially wealthy racer has a V8 EXACTLY like a NASCAR V8) Walking over the bridge toward where Noodles is meeting me I look back to see Chris. He is dead in the water, yellow flag is out.

I grab my phone to call Noodles. Noodles is a very good friend who travels as a problem solver with Chris’s “Outlaw” racing team when he is not building gizmos in his shed or fixing other engineers’ mistakes. Noodles got his name due to a habit of once sporting poo-orange dreadlocks, he is known to a few as Ian. An engineer, the things he builds in his shed puts Maggyver to shame, however Macgyver did not have a C&C machine the size of a small car.

“Hey Noods, where are you mate?”

“Cuntface! Wassup?”

“I just got here man, where are you?”

“Next to the commentary block, halfway up the disabled ramp”

“Not surprised to see you loitering on a disabled ramp mate!”

“Haha. Spot ya soon anal warts”

We sure have a special way of addressing each other!

Ian explains that Chris has a dodgy oil pump (an important bit apparently). When Chris saw the red oil light he killed the engine. After having already blown up one engine this weekend he did not want to explain to the wife that a second $100 000 engine is on order.

The weekend of racing is over for Chris, before I arrive he was crashed into whilst testing out the ‘little boat’. The ‘little boat’ runs a mere 5 litre V8, which is neither supercharged or Methanol burning. It was built for his teenage daughter to race. Noodles and I take a stroll to look at the vintage boats on display.

grey Cool boat peopleThe Molinari Hydroplane was built in Italy and raced by Cassanova, it is one sexy wooden boat with a huge leather steering wheel.

We wander over to the F1 boats.

“Feel this Ben”

“I’m not falling for that again Noodles!”

“Haha good on ya, the propellor champ”

“Christ, you could shave on that edge”

“Yup and see my hand? This is how much of

the prop sits in water”

“Serious? Only halfway in the water”

“And only about one metre of boat in contact with water, they steer via propellor movement not rudder”

I love hanging out with Ian, not only do I invariably learn a few novel sayings or curses I also learn heaps about engineering or machines in general. Noodles shows me around and with his formidable knowledge (I really should write a blog one day about the things he has invented or blown up) he explains about how these boats go and turn so damn fast. I decide that these beasts need a more racey collective than ‘boat’. ‘Celestial water hoppers’ maybe or ‘Introspheric surface skimmers’.

Soon it is getting dark so Noodles and I retire to the pits to be surrounded by literally millions of dollars worth of shiny boat. As the mercury falls John, another Outlaw team member, decides to light a fire.

Obviously no one wants a normal wood fire which would get ash all over the boats so John fills a 20 litre open drum with Methanol and lowers his cigarette lighter. I back off nervously as Ian assures me it is quite safe.

“Yeah mate, lighting an open drum full of aviation gas seems quite safe… you fucking idiot!”

“Nah, only the top one or two mill of vapour burns, the fluid methanol below actually cools off as the latent heat is drawn out to vapour…see”

I look at the drum which is now emitting a steady blue flame about one metre in height, it seems stable but dear god, no one kick it over! We warm ourselves around the fire, eat hamburgers and catch up on news before I have to make for home.

“See Ya Noods, great to catch up old boy”

“You too Westy, spot ya in Devo mate”

“Spot ya later Chris, hope the next race goes better for you mate”

“Cheers Ben. No bother, that’ racing. Oh Ben”


“Be careful in those paragliders, they seem really dangerous”

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