Hovercraft will break new ground in Canberra
7 May 2003
By ROBERT MESSENGER
for a high quality picture]
which staged the World's First Hovercraft Race, will mark
the 40th anniversary of that event by hosting the first world
hovercraft endurance championship next year. Chris Fitzgerald,
organiser of the World Hovercraft Championship in 1989 and
2002, outlined plans for HoverWorld Expo 2004 on a visit
to Canberra yesterday.
Also scheduled is an attempt on the hovercraft world speed
record, which stands at 137.37km/h.
Melbourne-born Mr. Fitzgerald is president of Neoteric Hovercraft,
Inc., based in Terre Haute, Indiana.
Between talks with the Canberra Tourism and Events Corporation and the National
Capital Authority, Mr. Fitzgerald scouted possible sites for the endurance
race. The most suitable location appears to be off Black Mountain Peninsula
[on Lake Burley Griffin], close to where the first hovercraft race was held
in 1964, he said. Of course, it has changed a lot since then and will require
more turns and be a lot more challenging.
Instead of the six- to eight-lap races held at previous world
championships, Mr. Fitzgerald said the event he was planning
for Canberra would be a daylong race of 100 laps, including
refueling stops and changes of the flexible skirts. "We
really haven't developed the technology at world championship
level and an endurance event like this will take hovercraft
racing into new areas."
The race is planned for late December 2004, so that European
and United States competitors can come to Australia in their
Mr. Fitzgerald said he would be promoting the Canberra event
at the next World Hovercraft Championship, in Berlin in September
2004. "A strong German lobby swayed the vote against Canberra
as the venue for the world championship. But in retrospect
that might turn out to be a good thing, because it will give
Canberra the chance to organise something completely different
and new," he said.
Mr. Fitzgerald leaves for Melbourne today (Wed) to talk to
the Australian Hovercraft Federation about the Canberra event.
He will go with nothing but great encouragement. He also plans
to involve the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry,
the Australian National University, the Canberra branch of
the Royal Aeronautical Society, and service clubs and sport
aviation clubs in Hover World Expo.
"The history of this is that a lot of hovercraft technology
was developed in Canberra and the focus should come back on
Canberra. Holding this event is the way to do it. An event
to mark the 40th anniversary of the world's first hovercraft
race will also allow us to see what progress has been made."
Mr. Fitzgerald entered the 1964 race, but had to scratch when
a chain drive broke.