INBOARD NATIONALS 1974
T HE SELECTION of Hazelwood as the venue for the Australian Inboard Championships over the Easter weekend caused not a little debate, bearing in mind the blow-out of the Victorian Championships at that venue that previous year by the Latrobe Valley’s notoriously temperamental weather.
Set against this -Hazelwood is as good spectator-wise as it is bad weather-wise, and few clubs work as hard or promote a meeting so energetically.
The first day, Easter Saturday, was lousy — but it was lousy everywhere in Victoria that day. But Sunday was overcast, with little breeze, and the water was excellent.
The result was a meeting about as good as the rather dull little processions of boats that generally make up inboard championships could be expected to be. If only the national titles had been run combined, to the Victorian formula, and the outboards had been there, it would have been a boomer. At any rate, the crowd went away satisfied, and the club finished with a score on the board.
As usual with a title meeting, the entries left a lot to be desired. Most of the big-name hydros, as expected, didn’t play, leaving the Unlimited a prey to John Lewis’ Vulture. What gave muscle to the meeting was the presence of a sizeable contingent of boats from West Australia, led by The Baron, a whacking big runabout with all the credentials for taking out the Unlimited Runabout and ruffling Vulture’s feathers in the Unlimited Open.
It’s a long hard grind across the Nullabor and several hundred miles further east, but the Sandgropers must have gone home reasonably satisfied. They took out two championships —Unlimited Racing Runabout (The Baron) and 300 Hydroplane (Pacemaker) — and recorded five seconds and one third. South Australia got another two —400 Displacement (Hum Bee) and Formula Ford Open (Lo Co). The remaining 25 went to Victoria.
The most successful trophy-baggers were Zulu (L. Burns) and Cindy (Bob Fisher) with five each. Zulu’s performance was the better of the two; she beat Avenger (WA) and Bo-Weevil Lotus in the 100 Hydro, showed the way to the same mob plus the displacement boats in the 100 Open, beat the bigger Mortician (NSW) and Hydromania in the 155 Hydro, and rounded it off with a win over Avenger in the 225 Hydroplane and a walkover in the 266 title.
Cindy, on the other hand, beat the little 75 cu in skiff Busy Bee in the 155 Pushrod Displacement, had a walkover in the 155 Service Runabout, and~- then went on to toss Ron Harrison’s Daktari three times to take three more titles — the 225, 266 and 300 Service Runabout.
This helped, in no small, measure,
to make Ron Harrison the bridesmaid of the meeting.
There were still a few big runabouts
going when the Unlimited Displacement got away, but this soon developed
into a private affair between The Baron, which had made one act of the
Unlimited Racing Runabout, and the Gippsland boat Tiger.