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Lake Mac home to new world powerboat champion


The Hunter has another global champion in its midst after local sportsman Darren Nicholson recently secured the UIM world powerboat title.

The Lake Macquarie athlete, who also owns The Gym on King in Newcastle, and his team – 222 Offshore – clinched the Union Internationale Motonautique (UIM) Class 1 category in the United States this month.

A hat-trick of wins with partner Giovanni Carpitella in Sarasota, Michigan City, and the opening race in the Mercury Racing Midwest Challenge in Sheboygan broke the challenge of rivals Steve Curtis and Brit Lilly in Huski Ice Spritz.

World champions: Lake Macquarie’s Darren Nicholson and Giovanni Carpitella. Photo: Ryan Walker

The 222 Offshore pair, running a Mercury 1100 engine, then sealed the deal with a measured performance in their next outing, finishing second to claim the Sam Griffith Trophy, racing’s most coveted prize.

“It was always the goal to win it [championship],” Nicholson said.

“It’s the premier class in the world.

“I’d won events with my brother (Chris) in sailing, but this is a lot different and more gratifying.

“It’s pretty cool.”

Nicholson, the team owner-driver, was quick to heap praise on his Italian throttleman Carpitella, as well as the rest of the troop.

“Because I came to powerboat racing quite late in life, I figured I definitely needed a red-hot crew to make up for my inexperience,” he said.

“Or, otherwise, I’d never achieve anything.

“Together, our team is exceptional.

“Muddy, Robbie, Ali, Marky and Skye all play a huge part.

“Muddy has great experience and his input is invaluable… and so is Giovanni’s.

“I believe I’m a better driver now because I was lazy when driving with either Giovanni or Muddy before.

“I’m listening to them very closely nowadays.

“Having absolute faith in Giovanni on the throttles is a rare gift I appreciate wholeheartedly.

“When driving a Class 1 at 150mph coming into the corner, it is not for the meek.

“I’ve won three sailing world championships in the past and Giovanni and I won the XCAT World Title last year but, now, we have the ultimate prize.”

The 222 Offshore team in action. Photo: Ryan Walker

Even the UIM secretary general Thomas Kurth was impressed by Nicholson and Carpitella on the water.

“We are extremely pleased to see the UIM Class 1 World Championship celebrating a true revival in 2023, with spectacular offshore powerboat racing action displayed in front of an ever-growing audience on-site,” he said.

“Having an Australian team owner and driver together with an Italian throttleman on top of the rankings adds spice to the series, which has found a resounding welcome in the US.

“By attracting new boats and teams for 2024, our promoter partner Azam Rangoonwala at Powerboat P1 is keeping up the pace of taking the UIM Class 1 back to the top of offshore powerboat racing.”

Nicholson will also get an opportunity to showcase his skills at home, too, in a month’s time.

“Muddy and I have one race left in Australia and it’s at Lake Macquarie in October,” he told the Newcastle Weekly.

“So, it will be great to head into that knowing we’ve sealed the world championship in the US.

“At the moment, 222 Offshore is leading the nationals, so the Lake Macquarie race will determine the winner.

“Hopefully, we can seal the Australian title as well.

“All in all, 2023 has been a huge year of racing for our team and I couldn’t be prouder of all that we’ve achieved.”

Unfortunately, Nicholson and Carpitella’s plans to continue their domination in the season-ending finale in St Petersburg, Florida, this weekend could be hampered following the arrival of Hurricane Idalia.

“It’s causing a few headaches with flights, so we’ll wait and see,” he said.

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