Jet-skis rev up for Lake Macquarie debut

LAKE DEBUT: Mark Perlowski at the launch of the Lake Macquarie round of the NSW Personal Watercraft series. Organisers are hoping for a crowd of 30,000 people. Pictures: Jonathan Carroll
LAKE DEBUT: Mark Perlowski at the launch of the Lake Macquarie round of the NSW Personal Watercraft series. Organisers are hoping for a crowd of 30,000 people. Pictures: Jonathan Carroll

LAKE Macquarie’s October jamboree for petrol-heads and water sport lovers has been beefed up with a new jet-ski race and without, supporters add, the need to build a track.

The multi-category jet-ski round will be held on Lake Macquarie near Warners Bay and Eleebana on October 14 and 15, scheduled around the lake’s Offshore Superboats race and as part of the Lake Mac Big Weekend.

The weekend’s racing will count towards the NSW Personal Watercraft series and send dozens of “skis” and heavier, power-packed “runabouts” skipping along the Warners Bay foreshore.

“It’s probably the equivalent of MotoGP or Motocross on water,” event manager Mark Glew said.

“We’re a bit privileged that some of our jet-skis in Australia are absolutely world-class. In the Saturday’s endurance race, you’ll see 40 to 50 skis out there racing at once.”

Lake Macquarie council approved the jet-ski event to join its existing Offshore Superboats round, which debuted last year, after receiving several supportive letters of submission from nearby residents and businesses.

One submission opposed the addition of jet-skis to the program on “noise pollution” grounds, arguing it would be the “thin end of the wedge” for quiet Eleebana.

“Let us please keep Eleebana free of commercial ventures and leave it as is,” the submission read. 

“[Lake Macquarie council] is doing wonderful work around our lake but allowing such a venture to go ahead would be disastrous.”  

But Lake Mac Independents councillor John Gilbert, a passionate advocate for the new event behind the scenes, compared its so-far seamless organisation with Newcastle’s heated build-up to the November V8 Supercars round.

“This is close to shore; the spectators will be 50 metres away. People are going to get sprayed,” Cr Gilbert said.

“And one of the best things is that you don’t need to build any kind of track. I think the quality of events like this showd how in a lot of ways, we leave Newcastle council for dead.”

With about 100 riders expected from as far as New Zealand and South Africa, Peter Francis, the chief executive of the council’s economic arm Dantia, said the weekend’s powerboats and jet-skis will be worth $4.1 million to the Lake Macquarie economy.

“There’s over 500 people who’ll need a bed as a result of this event, from riders to officials, mechanics and spectators,” Mr Francis said.

“Every hotel bed is going to be full, and it will probably fill every hotel bed in Newcastle as well.”

Last year’s Superboats round drew a crowd of about 25,000, and Mr Francis said he expects about 30,000 people to attend this year.