A two-time world hydroplane powerboat champion will make a splash in Queenstown this weekend – and an ear-splitting one at that.
North Island farmer Warwick Lupton, 53, will be driving his home-built boat, the 2000-horsepower Annihilator, at the first New Zealand Grand Prix Hydroplane Championship staged in Queenstown.
Lupton – who last raced on the lake at the annual Gore Boat and Water Ski Club boat marathons in the 1980s – says his boat’s capable of racing 290 kilometres per hour.
“I’m used to it obviously ’cos I’ve done it a long time so it’s just like having a cup of tea, to me.
“You’ve got to be very alert when you’re covering a couple of rugby fields in a second or whatever.
“If you’re not quite alert you get into a bit of trouble – if you get the feel wrong, you swim.”
Lupton comes from Waverley, near Whanganui – his father Snow put the place on the map after his horse, Kiwi, sensationally won the Melbourne Cup in 1983.
Lupton – who’s putting on a one-boat demonstration on Queenstown Bay from about 4pm – is coming with his eldest son Ken and cousin David Alexander who are also racing.
Their boats were also built in the same farm shed as Annihilator.
After the weekend, Lupton says he’ll be shattered.
“I’ll tell you what, this thing knocks me around a bit. The only reason I’m still running is ’cos all these young fellows are pushing me.
“Really, I should be on the bank with a chilly bin, that’s where I should be.”