REAL AUSTRALIA

Voice of Real Australia: Madeline Link tries powerboating with 222 Offshore racer Darren Nicholson on Lake Macquarie

Voice of Real Australia is a regular newsletter from ACM, which has journalists in every state and territory. Sign up here to get it by email, or here to forward it to a friend. Today's was written by Newcastle Herald journalist Madeline Link.

THE SUN was shining, a severe weather warning hung in the air and I had been to the chiropracter the day before.

I could not have been more prepared to be flung across Lake Macquarie in NSW's Hunter region in a five-tonne boat going at speeds up to 160 miles per hour.

As I got to the jetty, there was Darren Nicholson, pilot of the 222 Offshore powerboat.

And, as the man who holds the most wins by any Australian in the UIM Class One Championships in Europe and the Middle East handed me his tangerine helmet he said, "Don't worry, if you can drive a car you can drive this".

I laughed.

It was not a joke. I was driving.

First I'd heard of it.

If only my old 2001 two-door Holden Barina, known colliquially as The Blueberry or 'The Blueb' for short, could see me now.

So I did as I was told, I strapped on my helmet, said three Hail Mary's and climbed into a cockpit the size of a New York apartment with my co-pilot, throttleman Peter "Muddy" McGrath.

I don't know how many 5'11" women have descended into the helm of a powerboat before, but with none of the grace of a gazelle and all of the markings of a giraffe learning to walk - I was in.

Outside, the roar of the Mercury V8 engines was deafening, in here I was alone with my thoughts - and Muddy.

"If I don't make it out of here alive, I bequeath all of my So Fresh albums to my best friend," I told him.

I did not tell him that the first time I learned to successfully pull into a car park was at the end of my driver's licence test.

I clipped in, with five belts going across my torso and an emergency escape hatch beneath us I guessed Muddy and I would not be singing along to Harry Styles' As It Was on the radio together.

"Go that way," Muddy, evidently not a fan of the terms left and right told me.

In front of us, a dashboard lit up with buttons I assumed I wasn't allowed to touch.

We were off.

Bobbing into Lake Macquarie, Darren Nicholson and his crew towed us and the multi-million dollar powerboat from the jetty.

The water was choppy, and the west-north-westerly winds outside had reached a biting 40 kilometres an hour.

Not that it mattered, a perfectly fine day would still have presented tricky conditions for a girl who's preferred mode of transport is 'can someone else reverse park for me?'.

Nicholson untethered himself from Muddy and I.

I could not have been more excited to see how fast this thing would go.

"You ready?" Muddy asked.

Suddenly we were flying, fanging it across the lake loud enough to wake the locals dotted around it. Bloody hell that was fast.

"That was only 80 kilometres per hour," Muddy said, laughing.

Before I could turn and joke about the only thing missing in the cockpit being a cheese platter and a glass of chardy we ricocheted again.

Flogging it at over 100 kilometres per hour, the front of the boat began to rise and outside whizzed past the window in a flash.

This was epic. Muddy and I were the Thelma and Louise of Lake Mac.

And, as I hopped in my MG for the unbearably slow 60 kilometre drive home I could see why they do it.

There's just nothing quite like it.

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