POWER boat driver Ryan McIntosh from Wingham is expecting plenty of hot competition in this weekend's 8Taree Easter Classic.
McIntosh was one of the stars of last year's event. Driving the six litre Lock 'n Load, McIntosh won two Australian championships, the Commodore's Cup and the Griffith Boat Club Cup. Interestingly, McIntosh didn't rate those wins as his best performance for the weekend.
He was particularly proud of his second placings in the Eastaway Shield and Liberty Cup, where he was up against open boats.
However, McIntosh said the six litre class this weekend will probably be the strongest on record.
"A new series - the Super Sixes - has started. It'll be over four rounds and Taree will be the second,'' McIntosh explained.
"So there's going to be some fast boats here.''
McIntosh finalised work on his boat last weekend and hasn't been in the water since January where he contested the world six litre championships at Windsor and Berry in South Australia.
Four races were held at both venues and McIntosh finished with six firsts and two seconds but remarkably didn't take overall honours.
"I led the series after the first round by a point but eventually lost by two overall, the bloke who beat me had one more first placing,'' he explained.
While described grandly as a world championship, McIntosh said the event was really a USA v Australia challenge involving 15 boats. He had mixed feelings about finishing second, especially going so close to take the main prize.
"But at least the bloke who beat me was an Aussie,'' he added.
McIntosh's 2018 campaign came to a soggy end last September when his boat sunk while he was competing at Windsor. He was uninjured in the incident, but he said getting the boat back to the surface was a major operation.
"It doesn't sink to the bottom because of the buoyancy structure, but it was still a big job getting it out of the water and onto the trailer,'' he said.
Work then started on repairing the damage and this wasn't finished until just before Christmas, in time for McIntosh to race at Windsor and Berry.
McIntosh will put the boat away after the Easter weekend.
"I've got a fair bit going on with work so I'm going to have a bit of a break until Windsor later in the year,'' he said.
However, McIntosh won't be idle.
"I'm going to have a game of footy,'' he explained.
He'll be playing with Wingham's reserve grade rugby league side.
"I haven't had a game yet - I wanted to get the Easter Classic out of the way first,'' he said.
McIntosh explained that rugby league and powerboat driving aren't really compatible.
He carried a shoulder injury into last year's Easter Classic courtesy of an injury sustained in a trial game. McIntosh is looking forward to having a game with the Tigers this year and said that even at 41 he won't be out of place.
"There's a few old blokes playing at Wingham this year, so It'll be good,'' he smiled.
Around 60 races will be decided in this year's classic, with racing to start on Saturday.