Powerboats rip up Rotoiti

‘Organise it and they will come’ seems to be a true mantra for any Tasman-based event in post-lockdown New Zealand, says 2021 NZ Power Boat Association Nationals organiser Joe Blakiston.

Joe and his fellow organisers from the ENZED Rotoiti Power Boat Club were rewarded for their perseverance and determination to go ahead with the event by what he described as “a perfect result over the weekend”.

The national regatta was as held at Lake Rotoiti on Saturday, providing an ambitious programme of 37 races from the powerful GP hydroplanes to the entertaining clubman racers who provided close racing all day.

Local driver Julian Stilwell retained his Formula 1 national title at the helm of his Johnston Associates craft, however his Sunday racing was ended with engine issues.

Formula 3 was taken out by local driver Jason Stewart in his reliable craft The Ghost who raced consistently over both days.

Blenheim driver Nigel Wiblin proving reliability is the key with his 40-year-old boat Tammatha securing second place in two very-competitive classes and never missing a beat all weekend.

The Grand National Hydroplane title was won by Invercargill driver Shane Harvey in Renegade.

Crowd favourite was the massive field of nine GP Hydroplanes who raced fiercely over two days. Waverley driver Ken Lupton continued his recent dominance by taking the National GP title as well as winning the four-round Hydro Thunder Series with a masterful drive from the least-favoured pole 6 on the start line.

The sight of six V8-powered craft approaching turn 1 at close to 200 km/h was described as “heart-stopping” for those on the shore and "the reason many come back year after year".

The event was not without incident with several spectacular crashes testing safety procedures and the training of rescue crews.

Joe said the crowds were the biggest in years and positive feedback was very encouraging, especially the standard of commentary, the consistent racing and lunchtime warbird flyover from the Blenheim-based Yak 3 Full Noise.

“We have a few things to work on for next year to make it even better but the sunshine and perfect lake conditions absolutely sealed the event success,” he added.