Hydroplanes to race in resort

The Annihilator, driven by Warwick Lupton, from Waverley, Taranaki, will be racing on Lake Wakatipu next month. Photo by Jeremy Ward
The Annihilator, driven by Warwick Lupton, from Waverley, Taranaki, will be racing on Lake Wakatipu next month. Photo by Jeremy Ward

Speeds of up to 280kmh will be reached on Lake Wakatipu next month during a national powerboat race which will serve as a trial run for a world championship race to be held in Queenstown next year.

The New Zealand Grand Prix Hydroplane Championship is to be staged in Kelvin Grove on March 23-24, although Cromwell will also host some of the event the following weekend.

Hydroplanes are the fastest automotive boats on water, running upwards of 2000 horsepower and fuelled by methanol.

Competitors race laps of an oval circuit.

New Zealand Powerboat Federation president Denise Moughan said it had been 26 years since such a race was last run in the resort and since the addition of international flights at Queenstown Airport, there was an opportunity to move international championships south.

Usually, hydroplane races are held at Lake Karapiro in the North Island.

''You don't see this sort of boat racing in the South Island,'' Ms Moughan said.

Only four countries hold hydroplane races, these being Canada, the United States, Australia and New Zealand.

There would be no more than 10 races a day and between three and eight boats in a race at any time.

The organisers have applied for resource consent and have stated a crane will be used to launch the bigger boats.

''This will be undertaken from the golf course end of the course,'' the consent application said.

''The applicant states there will be 60 minutes of engine warm-up per day.''

''The proposed event is a free event for the community, and will include an anticipated number of people attending in the range of 1000-2000,'' which would include competitors, teams, officials and safety teams and spectators.

Competitor and two-time world champion Warwick Lupton, from Waverley, is to travel down for the event and said it would be something new for Queenstowners.

Mr Lupton said it was not a professional sport such as car racing. Only four or five ''really good race weekends'' were run annually.