A powerboat race organiser says spectators around Queenstown Bay had nothing to fear from a high-speed demonstration last Friday.
Two-time world champion Warwick Lupton roared round the bay, metres off the shoreline and wharves, in his 2000-horsepower Annihilator as a warm-up demonstration for the New Zealand Grand Prix Hydroplane Championship at the weekend.
“It looked scary,” local harbourmaster Marty Black admits.
“He certainly ran close to the shore at high speed, but people loved it and he got a standing ovation.”
Competition secretary Denise Moughan says Lupton was showing what he could do with his boat but wasn’t at full bore.
“He knows what he’s doing.”
Moughan is pleased how the weekend’s racing went despite the odd noise complaint.
Organisers handed out 200 earplugs to spectators at Frankton Arm’s Kelvin Grove.
“We respect the fact that it is noisy but it’s short bursts so it’s not as if it goes on and on and on.”
Moughan was happy with crowd numbers and delighted to see so many spectator craft.
Boats reached speeds of up to 290kmh, due to excellent water conditions, she says.
No damage was sustained though one boat performed a 360 when it fell in a water hole and another’s propeller disintegrated.
Moughan says delays were caused because only one crane was available to lift boats into the water – “next time I’d have two cranes”.
Twelve boats competed for the grand prix title, which was down on expectations.
However, Moughan says she wasn’t disappointed because the event was partly a trial for a possible world championship over the same course next year.
Lupton was narrowly pipped to the national title by his cousin David Alexander – both hail from Waverley, near Whanganui.