© Copyright 2011  Julianne Dodds Speedboat and hydroplane Championships 1921 - 1925 Mac’s first hydroplane Awaya The son of a timber man, John ‘Mac’ McGinnis Williams was born in Warragul, Victoria in 1882. After completing a woodturning apprenticeship in Melbourne, Mac moved to Queensland and began operating a veneer and plywood mill in Brisbane in 1916. After the war ended, the plywood industry thrived. By 1922, at 40 years of age, Mac also owned three plywood mills, a glue factory and piggery, several rental houses in the Brisbane suburbs, and he had purchased land on the banks of the Brisbane River at Kangaroo Point with the intention of building a home with a boatshed beside the river. Finally he had enough money to enjoy some leisure time and bought his first speedboat. This was Awaya, an 18 foot single-step hydroplane and had been built by William Holmes at McMahon’s Point in Sydney, the first boat builder in Sydney to construct speed motor boats. Before Mac bought the boat, William’s son, Reginald Holmes, had already won the New South Wales Motor Yacht Club speed pennant in Awaya in 1919. Although she had an engine of modest power, Awaya was a trim little craft and the envy of sporting boat racing men in Brisbane. At the Brisbane-on-the-River Aquatic carnival on 28th February 1921, Mac made his debut in speedboat racing with Awaya. It was a pleasant way for Brisbane families to spend a Saturday afternoon. Blankets were spread out on the grass beside the riverbank, picnic boxes were unpacked and the spectators relaxed to the melodies played by the South Brisbane City Band and the Naval Brigade Band. The Brisbane River was dotted with numerous sailing boats, yachts, motor boats, skiffs and rowing boats while the eager crowd waited for the speed boat race to determine the Queensland Speed Championship. His Excellency the Governor of Queensland, Sir Matthew Nathan, started the race between the hydroplanes. Mac’s Awaya shot away from the other competitors and he won his first race. Alderman George Willoughby Whatmore, who later became a competitor against Mac in speed boat racing, watched the race from his yacht Narwonah. After Governor Nathan took afternoon tea on the yacht, he took a short run with Mac in the Awaya. Mac’s first boat Awaya. Photo from Williams Collection Awaya wins first race for Mac on 28th February 1921. Photo from Williams Collection