By Stuart Watson
Thank you, Taupo! The NZ Offshore Powerboat Association opened their 2018 season on Auckland Anniversary weekend, and what a fantastic weekend it was. Sunny, Hot, and Fast Racing. Saturday saw the offshore boats, setting up pole positions for the main feature races on the Sunday. Screaming around the lake of speeds up to 110 miles per hour (177Kmh) the pole shootout was very fast, and very close, and after one hours racing, pole positions were set, and all the racing was done, and several thousands spectators were off to enjoy the Taupo Summer concert.
Sunday morning rolled around to another gorgeous day and a little wind, which the Offshore teams love. The Hydro racing boats had the morning doing Circuit class racing and Hydro racing heats, mixed in with Jet Ski racing too. It was set for an on the water spectacular extravaganza!
Midday ticked, the five-minute flair was set, Pole position were in place and then boom! Race 1 was underway. The Boats roared away from the pre-start positions get into full race speed, before crossing the official start line in front of the lake front. Coming around the first lakefront buoy was a sensational view of 5 Superboats and a Sports 300 “Batboat” The wash of water, the noise, the speeds, this is the best form of all motorsports to see crossing the official timed start line.
The timing officials were ready and off we went. The first race was awesome to watch, and Fairview pulled out to an early lead in the Superboat 1000, while Hijinx, raced into a slender lead in the Superboat 400’s. Espresso Engineers and Equalizer in the Sports 300 also had a great battle going on. The closest racing belonging the ever-competitive Sports 225 class, with the four boats racing close to each other almost the entire race. As the half hour race went on Profloors pulled out a small lead on Fairview, with Outboard Pro, dealing with a small issue, still had great pace, to stay in contention and ensure they finished to pick up valuable championship points. Profloors (day entry only) picked up the win for Superboat 1000. Hijinx racing managed to hold their lead over NZ Homeloans in the Superboat 400 Finishing just seconds in front. Great racing between these two teams is set for the season. Espresso Engineers eventually dominated their race in the Sports 300 class, and newcomer to the Sports 225 class ECU Chips, held on for the race win. This class had the closest racing with all four boats crossing the line within 60 seconds of each other. The sports 200 class, non-championship day entries, also showed their great skills at racing in tough water, and eventually Red Steel, showed their experience in pulling away and ending with a great win.
Classic class is worthy of the last mention in Race 1, simply because of the finish. Three boats in this restricted speed class. They can only race at a maximum of 80Mph, with a small window of tolerance. Mayhem, a 19-foot sonic with a Mercury 525 Race engine roared around the course, with both Race for Life and the ever-popular Topaz just behind. Mayhem lead the race from the start, right to the finish line, except, on the last straight Race for life, had caught up, and as they crossed the line, Race for Life just pipped over the line ahead, the difference being less than second between them. The official timing team had their work cut out, triple checking all the times, to ensure they scored the race correctly.
An anxious wait for race 2 to start at 1.30, where we going to see the the same incredible start as we saw in race 2? No we didn’t. Race 2, was even more spectacular! Roaring along the front of the lake front we saw 5 Superboats, virtually side by side Fairview, Profloors and Outboard Pro, rubbing shoulders in the Superboat 1000 as they crossed the official start line, pretty much together, with NZ Homeloans and Hijinx racing doing the same in the Superboat 400, with NZ Homeloans immediately looking like they were racing with the throttle arms pushed all the way to the floor.
Mayhem in the classic class, had the jump on Race for Life, and looked determined to stay there. As the race went on, Mayhem continued their dominant start, and over the in the Sports 225 Class, it was so close with the four boats tussling for positions, the Officials had their work cut out, making sure they got everything done correctly. In the 200 Class, right from the start Red Steel, again showing their experience raced out to a quick lead over Nakita and ASAP racing.
Somewhere in amongst the 2nd Lap, Profloors stopped and their race looked over. Fairview and Outboard Pro, were still battling neck to neck. We had a real Superboat 1000 race happening. As the race went on, Fairview edged ahead by a few hundred metres, and managed to hold off to seal the win, and that meant two championship first places to them. In Superboat 400, NZ Homeloans looked commanding, and every lap their lead increased. But this class is close. Very close, while NZ Homeloans stretched their lead, they only finished just 100 metres clear of Hijinx Racing. With Hijinx racing winning race 1, and NZ Homeloans taking race 2, championship points were even, but who took overall day honours? After a triple check of boats times, NZ Homeloans took out the Trophy but just 18.7 seconds of separation. These boats are fabulous to watch, very competitive and if Round One at Taupo is anything to go by, the rest of the season for the Superboat 400’s is going to be amazing.
Espresso Engineers continued their dominance by winning the Sports 300 class quite comfortably in the end, and I’m sure the team will be pleased with their race weekend.
The Sports 200 class, with the three boats running, all day entries, had a great 2nd race, and the Carson family in Red Steel, showed experience and skill all weekend, to take out the overall win. Two race wins from 2 races.
The Sports 225, was a great race, as all boats were so close. Newcomers ECU Chips, were great from the start, however this race, they got outraced by a dominant CRD Automotive team who held onto 1st place very well, but not quite quick enough to take the weekend honours. ECU Chips took out the weekend title, by just 35 seconds. While they did so well, the boat that really needs a mention in this class is Chindit. This weekend represented Chindits 40th Birthday. The oldest race boat over every type of race boat sports, in all of Australasia. Not only is she old, she’s still incredibly competitive. Chindit won every race in this class in 2017, so we really know that this boat has the goods after 40 years. Happy Birthday Chindit.
See you all in New Plymouth, February 17. Details on www.nzoffshore.co.nz