This weekend sees the return the Penrite Australian V8 Superboat Championship with back-to-back action hopefully taking place at the Tweed Valley Jet Sprint Club although very heavy rainfall all around may cause the organisers some headaches.
When PRW spoke to Sean Henshelwood from the AFJSA about the viewing figures the championship gets not only via social media but also across various TV platforms he said
Our Facebook page – V8 Superboats – is currently running at 7.2M people per month and we haven’t raced for eight months.
We also have a global TV presence off the back of Covid that rates to 300M homes from all corners of the globe with TV reproduced in multiple languages (including Mandarin). So, we’re on the crest of a wave now, sadly we may fall prey to mother nature which would be a pity after being away for so long, but fingers crossed!
So is it a case of ‘the harder you work the luckier you get’ as quoted by the golfing legend Gary Player?
I wasn’t aware of that one, but there’s some truth to it. I’ve been a race car fan my whole life, and for a brief time a driver, but found motorsport journalism was a way I could stay involved and make $$ instead of spending it. Back in 2006 was the first time I saw Jetboats. From then on, I was hooked and have been involved pretty much full time since then, morphing from print media into TV.
Sadly, his career in commentary and production with CTVS, a Beijing based production company for whom he produced the Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup for eight seasons, ended as Covid hit.
So, he turned to learning to produce TV and used his connections in Asia and elsewhere to open opportunities for Jetboats and it has (fortunately) just exploded from there Henshelwood continued
Our greatest challenge is finding a commercial partner to take advantage of the immense exposure we are currently generating. Arguably we are one of the highest rating sports in Australia now, but few people are actually aware of the value that presents. It is something we’re looking to address soon, but it was very much an issue of the cart and the horse… without a media profile, we’d have never attracted commercial support, so that’s one box ticked, now we just need to work on making it financially viable in the long term.
Henshelwood also credits the support and passion from their photographer Russell Puckeridge, who like him, reinvented himself to transition from stills to video (he shoots both at every race meeting), along with the foresight of the AFJSA board, led by Justin Roylance, who allowed them the freedom to pursue the project with almost complete autonomy in order to help push the sport into the spotlight.
With the prospect of Henshelwood having a 3600kms round trip to drive we hope the weather gods are on his side especially as they have a ‘fleet’ of new entries coming into the sport, and record crowds attendance.. the future looks pretty good!