by John Curnow
The points on a spectrum provide for definition. This means we can quickly determine where things lie and make assessments based on that. The dynamic organisation, Racer X Marine, has been happy to assist us in this process. Our beginning, middle and end are to be about volume, fun and cool. All in that order, too!
She’s beamy, she’s quick, she’s Simply Fun. - Club Marine Series
The Prop Guard range of devices to shield outboard and sterndrive screws is where we’ll begin. As we head off, it’s important to note that the market has doubled in size since Racer X commenced distributing this distinctive brand about 24 months ago. Now the number of Pro Guards leaving the Racer X Marine’s base at the Quantum loft in Mornington speaks volumes about everyone’s concern for maximum safety.
In the middle are the Racer X sports ribs, resplendent with targa bars and colourful decals. There are also Aquila coach’s boats and both of these are expanding categories. Naturally, most will end up at our point of origination for their beginning of a seaborne life.
Currently occupying top spot at the dichotomous end from the Prop Guards, is the Hudson Hakes 42 racer. This Judel Vrolijk penned gem is part of the new breed of 40 footers or thereabouts that have hit the market to cover their own spectrum or more likely scatter graph as they offer differing suitabilities in categories like One Design, IRC, HPR, day racer, inshore and offshore with professional or club based crews.
Racer X Marine’s founder, Dave Eickmeyer, commented, 'Prop Guards have certainly doubled since we starting distributing this brand in Australia and New Zealand two years ago. Perhaps it is their distinctive design and colours, but the Royal Australian Navy, various protective and maritime services have certainly taken to them. Without doubt however, Queensland leads the way in requiring commercial vessels to have a prop guard. It would be good for the rest of Australia to follow.'
Prop Guard in action.
'A lot of Prop Guards get sent to the Northern Territory and Far North Queensland for service in the aquaculture and tourism industries. As it turns out, the most popular of the Prop Guard range is our red one and used on 100Hp outboards, which is for craft like a 17’ RIB. All yacht clubs run 40-60Hp, which is the blue 13' variant and below that there is the yellow one for smaller engines.'
'The red, 15' Prop Guard suits 70 to say 150Hp and then there’s 150 to 350Hp in 14' and 16' versions which are found on craft for use in commercial pearling, diving and aquaculture. These include traditional stern drives, Volvo contra-rotating screws and the normal Volvo Penta sterndrive with its exhaust being emitted from the cavitation plate. We have a special clamp for this type of mount, as normally our Prop Guards get bolted directly through this area', said Eickmeyer.
Whilst talking about installation, Eickmeyer was very quick to add, 'Correct installation is marked on the packaging and there is a also an instruction sheet supplied with the product as well. In essence, the smaller diameter ring leads into the water and the larger diameter ring circumnavigates to propeller arc. I have seen one mounted the wrong way on a yacht tender, so please ensure the little circle leads!'
Dave Eickmeyer demonstrates how to fit a Prop Guard correctly.
'As Prop Guards are made from polypropylene, there are no rust or corrosion issues and there are also no moving parts, hydraulics or electrics for the water to attack. Prop Guards are very simple to install and should take you less than 20 minutes to fit onto your outboard. You’ll just need a few basic tools to prepare the outboard and affix the nine bolts that are all supplied in the kit. Prop Guards are not expensive and bolt on solidly. All Prop Guards have a distinct bright colour for a better understanding of exactly where the propeller is.'
'Safety is a key concern and in these litigious times, fitting a Prop Guard also makes great sense, whether you’re coaching around kids or operating a tourist or diving craft. Just one little mistake and you could end up with a hand, foot or a body being drawn in to the propeller. Apart from preserving life, you could potentially avoid substantial fines. The last two Olympic regattas have certainly set the precedent. It was mandatory for all coach, media boats and race officials’ boats to have Prop Guards fitted.'
The RIB has well and truly found markets to dominate in. Racer X Marine has its own range of small tenders and Sport Boat style RIBS for the family or ski/wakeboard enthusiast. They’re as popular on the water as SUVs are on the road. From 2.2 and on to 8m, the Racer X RIBs can be optioned with features like stainless steel or fibreglass targa bars, comfy seats, PVC or the more durable Hyperlon tubes, anchor rollers and various deckboards, so as to ensure you look and feel the part, too. Price is an important element in any purchase decision, but so too is quality and it is with this mix in mind that you’ll find the Racer X RIBs somewhat compelling.
One of the Racer X Marine RIBs, fitted with the optional Stainless Steel Targa Bar.
Racer X Marine is also an agent for Heidi and Justin Lambert’s highly regarded Australian brand, Aquila. Aquila has built a loyal following and enviable reputation for good design, inherent build quality, warranty and service, as well as price competitiveness for its yacht tenders, utility craft and coach’s vessels.
Of particular note is the last category and Aquila’s new FX 580. Not only is it cheaper than the market leader, it offers a healthy LWL, the de rigueur plumb bow, easy planing and a dry(ish) ride for its 10 PoB or 1400kg payload. There is an expansive non-skid deck area, pop-up cleats, bow plate, lifting points and continuous rubbing strake, all as standard fitment. Add your choice of up to 135Hp and this centre console workhorse is fully set to get busy doing a variety of tasks from coaching to diving and laying marks.
Aquila's sensational FX 580 workhorse RIB.
Aquila manufacture RIBs from 2.2m to 5.8m and all are built to last with Hyperlon tubes. You can choose your type of console, as well as bolster or straddle seats and the smaller boats all have options like Inflatable floors, aluminium boards or fibreglass hulls. 'We can perform a full fit out with trailer and engine all ready to go, or you can purchase a bare boat and do it yourself. Please see racerxmarine.com.au for information and pictures of our craft', said Eickmeyer.
HUDSON HAKES 42
Forty is the new fifty and why shouldn’t it be when you look at items like less expensive pen fees and sails at around half the cost, along with fewer crew needed to operate them. Less dollars and similar fun seems to working for many an owner these days.
Into this very space have already arrived, or soon to appear, craft such as the HH42, MC38, Archambault’s A13, Carkeek 40, Ker 40 and the Botin 40. 'Some are inshore oriented, others perform at their best with an AC type crew on board, some chase a good IRC rating and others went after the High Performance Rule in the USA. In a way, the HH is in the middle of the spectrum. They’re up to Hull #6, with Simply Fun being #3 and the only one in Australia so far, but there are two or three potential skippers talking about this craft', said Eickmeyer.
Phillip Coombs new Hudson Hakes 42, Simply Fun. - CLub Marine Series
Simply Fun’s owner is Yachting Australia Board Member, Phil Coombs. He said, 'I had been looking for a new yacht for some time and asked Dave Eickmeyer to help me. My specification was for a yacht that embraced latest technology. One where you came off the water with a smile, no matter what the results showed. Clearly it was about getting some fun back into sailing, so a planning hull that was a full on racer, not cruiser/racer, IRC designed with real offshore capabilities and a vessel I could sail with mates is what we are really talking about.'
'We looked at many yachts and Dave found the Hudson Hakes 42, which certainly fitted my criteria. She was so named to serve as an aide memoire to the purchase criteria and it also fits with my business name, which is Simply Business.'
'The boat has exceeded my expectations and is capable of winning, as we already have proven both inshore or offshore and in light or heavy weather. The HH42 is an awesome all-round yacht.'
Coombs went on to add, 'Dave’s efforts and support has been beyond reasonable expectations and the project would not have been such a success without Dave’s personal efforts. I would highly recommend the yacht and Dave as an agent to anyone wanting an awesome yacht and looking to get some fun back into their sailing.'
'As Coombsy has said, smile on dial was the determining factor and we will beat the Beneteau 40s under IRC rating soon enough. There is a lot of performance still to be extracted from the boat. We will have even better results to come in back half of year as a result of our big learning curve, which will set us in good stead for the 70th Hobart. It has been a terrific opportunity to take on the assisting selling the HH42 here in Australia and I went to the factory to commission Simply Fun', said Eickmeyer.
Simply Fun cleared the fleet early to lead them out of Port Phillip Heads - ORCV Melbourne to Launceston / Hobart Yacht Race starts
But wait. There’s more….
No. Not the steak knives, but there are hot knives on offer!
Now it is true that there are also items such as snap shackles, ropes and cordage, furlers, iPhone covers, EPIRBs, apparel, instruments and sail repair kits dotted about Racer X’s offerings across 10 categories.
'We are going to continue with innovation at Racer X Marine, so we not only have our work to do, but also tremendous potential to keep us motivated. Look for more things to drop into spots along the Racer X spectrum as time rolls along, also. Today, the Internet is all about offering a cheaper price, so long as you don’t need it right now and we’re certainly sticking to that theory.'
'The perfect entrée for Racer X Marine is the person who comes in to buy a sail every few years and then sees all of the other items on offer. For all the other potential customers, we’ll have to ensure that our website offers a compelling story and rewarding shopping experience', Eickmeyer concluded with.
See www.racerxmarine.com.au or call Dave on 0418 336 820 if you want to talk volume, fun or even cool to fill a spot on your own spectrum.