With little breeze, temperatures in the high 30s and a flat sea Gisborne was a perfect playground for fast and furious powerboat racing, and that's exactly what we saw as the Rayglass New Zealand Offshore Powerboats competed in the second race of their eight race summer series.
With a win at Taupo 'Fairview' driven by Warren Lewis and Chris Hanley were keen to maintain their lead in the superboat class. As the boats started racing 'Schick Hydro' was in the lead and looked intent on leading the field. 'Doosan' was hot on their heels, also keen on keeping 'Fairview' from another win.
As often happens when the racing is fast, and boats and crews are pushed to their limits, the problems started to appear, with Schick Hydro experiencing major drive issues on lap nine, and Doosan struggling to balance their ballast distribution throughout the race. Fairview were quick to take advantage of their misfortune and blasted around the course for another convincing win.
In the superboat lites 'NZ Blokes' continued to battle it out with 'Red Steel' who at times early in the race took the lead and looked like a real threat to the champions. As luck would have it they had the misfortune to connect with some debris floating in the water which ripped off their starboard prop and shaft. All chances of maintaining the lead were lost, and the boat had to concentrate on limping around the course to the finish on one engine.
The team from Barracuda Kayaks, though not in the running with the leaders, appeared to be having a lot of fun and were racing this week in their older hull after sustaining damage in the newer boat during the week.
'Konica Minolta' once more appeared to cruise around the course despite sustaining prop damage and losing a blade in lap four. With the absence of Topaz who had engine problems at Taupo, their only competition 'Gull Force 10' were unable to provide any contest as they too were experiencing engine issues and completed the race at a very leisurely pace.
The Hondas provided the most entertainment today with the long flat straights providing a perfect racetrack on which the boys were able to 'let it rip' and we saw some very close racing, especially between Auckland District Collections, 'CRD Automotive' and 'Total Oil'. James Taylor from Total Oil said, 'It was like a Honda Sandwich out there today and I was in the middle of it''. Though not touching, the boats were racing within inches of each other while still leaping and maintaining speed. 'Auckland District Collections' were lucky to take their second win of the series from some very worthy competitors.
In the Super 60 class 'Back2Bay6' again led 'Espresso Engineers' around the course and looked incredibly fast and flat as they blasted around the course to win the overall 60 mile title. 'Espresso Engineers' were unfortunate to hit some debris and sustain damage to their prop so had to throttle off from the mid point of the race.
In the Sports Restricted Marineworkz and Auckland District Collections both appeared to struggle with their engines and both boats had to pull up at times to make emergency repairs. Both completed the race with 'Auckland District Collections' again winning the class.
The NZOPA would like to thank Tourism Eastland, Eastland Community Trust, Eastland Port, Steve McCafferty Trucking, Eastland Oils, Phil Law Panelbeating, White Pointer, Martins Hire Centre, Gisborne Honda and C R Taylor Ltd for their support in making the Gisborne Race possible.
They also acknowldge the ongoing support of the series sponsors Rayglass, AB Marine, Marine Paramedical Services and MarineWorkz.
The remaining five rounds in the 2011 series are: Maraetai (12 Feb), Napier (26 Feb), Whitianga (12 March), Marsden Cove outside Whangarei (26 March), Auckland (9 April) and the final round in Wellington on 23 April.
More information and updated championship points table can be found on the New Zealand Offshore Powerboat Association website www.nzoffshore.co.nz