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Racing Champ Rapt by Hurricane

Racing Champ Rapt by Hurricane

Dick Johnson is a motor racing legend, with an appetite for speed and performance since 1967 when he burst onto the track.

The winner of three Bathurst 1000 titles, and five Australian Touring Car Championships in a career that lasted more than 30 years, Dick now leads DJR Team Penske and is as active as ever in the racing scene, mentoring the next generation.

But there’s another side to Dick – the hands-on granddad for whom time spent with Jett, aged 13 and a half, and Lacey, 10, is time best spent.

Dick has sold his much-loved Integrity Motor Yacht and is now the proud owner of a Hurricane Fundeck 236 deck boat – the limousine version with all the bells and whistles. “Life changes and your requirements change,” he says. “There’s nothing more important to me than spending time with the family out on the water, day tripping.”

His 7.16m “deck boat” as the Americans call them, boasts a sturdy, stable fibreglass “cathedral hull”, wide beam and plenty of room onboard for up to 13 guests.

“The kids love it because we can charge up to the Pin [Jumpinpin], beach it and spend the day swimming, having lunch, enjoying the Broadwater. We’re planning to use it fishing, diving, skiing, and towing. Equipped with Simrad touchscreen sounders, high-tech stereo and sub woofers, lounges that double as beds, bar, table, refrigeration and plenty of storage, the Hurricane 236 is a versatile platform for all kinds of on-water activities.

Pontoon boats may have had an aura of “slow and steady” in previous incarnations, but ask DJ whether his Hurricane deckboat represents a retreat into “old man boating” and you’ll be blasted with an emphatic “HELL NO!”

“It tips into turns like a regular boat, plus it has enough grunt to tow skis or inflatables, and to get out of the way of the jetskis. The Hurricane 236 has a top speed of 80km an hour, which is 43 knots, and we’re decked out with stereo and LED lighting so you’ll see us coming, and hear us!”

Brett Flanagan, seasoned boatie and founder of the successful Integrity Motor Yacht brand, came across Hurricane, the world’s number one selling deck boat, in the US during his own search for the ideal family pontoon boat.

“Hurricane pioneered the deck boat business in 1974 and are the number one selling deck boat in the world, producing over 22,000 each year from their four factories in Indiana. There are around 60 different models over the size range and innumerable options when it comes to custom colours, finishes and options.”

Hurricane produces a variety of deck boats up to 24-feet, including the FunDeck, SunDeck, SunDeck Sport and Centre Console Series. Brett’s brother, Grant Flanagan and son-in-law, Paul Atallah run the dealership from Sanctuary Cove with an array of models on display, ready for testing and immediate delivery – and many more on the way from the US for delivery in time for summer.

The FunDeck is characterized by its secure high rails, plenty of seating and stowage space beneath the seats, in-floor lockers, a toilet, shower option, barbeque and dual biminis. With a draft of 25cm, the FunDeck can access shallow reaches and pull up on the beach, which is ideal for the safety and comfort of kids and the elderly.

The benefits over aluminium pontoon craft are almost innumerable, as Paul explains. “They are tri-hull, moulded vinylester fiberglass construction, so they’re thicker and more durable than aluminium, and can be easily anti-fouled. They use the latest techniques and materials and have fastidious quality control.

The tri-hull outperforms alloy triple tube hulls and delivers better fuel economy, better banking and handling, and less drag for superior performance from smaller outboards.

“Fibreglass construction is far superior and will outlast the alloy-type pontoon boats currently on the market,” says Paul, adding that all hulls are backed by a 10-year structural warranty.

Seating is made from multi-density foam with triple-needle stitched vinyl. The Hurricane self-bailing system keeps the cockpit and everything in it dry and comfortable. A wide-body design and spacious floor plans create the ultimate comfort zone for any activity. Every cavity is filled with urethane foam flotation. The foam provides structural rigidity, hull stiffening, sound dampening, and reduction of vibration and minimizes water absorption.

Most importantly, Hurricane boats have positive floatation which makes them virtually unsinkable!

“The FunDeck is going to please all kinds of boaties, from first boat buyers and families, to people who have a larger motor yacht and just want something fun, fast, fuss-free and family-friendly,” says Paul.

“They will suit the waterways of the Gold Coast, Moreton Bay, Sydney Harbour, Pittwater, Port Phillip Bay and Mandurah, as well as canals, lakes and dams – Hurricane pontoon boats are the perfect all-rounders!

“It’s a great boat for multi-generational families, young people looking for a fantastic party platform, and groups of friends wanting to enjoy every kind of water activity.

“We’ve loaded them up with all the gear, like lights, speakers, sounders, all the nav equipment, refrigeration, pop-up change room and bimini for a perfect day on the water. And we have an exclusive deal with Yamaha for 90hp to 300hp engines. These Hurricanes are turn-key and ready to rip!”

Coming into summer, Dick Johnson and his family intend to explore the Broadwater, which DJ deems “the best bit of boating on the east coast”, to Moreton Bay, Tangalooma and up to Mooloolaba on the Sunshine Coast.

“The Hurricane is exceptional in rough water – stable, dry and a hell of a lot of fun. Getting out onto the water is the best place to bring up kids. They make lifelong friends and enjoy the freedom and fun only boating can deliver.”

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