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Cameron Douglas Moore (45), of Christchurch, had been competing in the Otago Rivers Jet Boat Race when his boat crashed into an embankment upstream of the Luggate Red Bridge. He died at the scene.
His navigator, Adam Wilton (34), of Rangiora, was flown by helicopter to Dunedin Hospital with concussion and broken fingers.
New Zealand Jet Boat River Racing Association president John Derry said Mr Moore was "a good guy''.
"Cameron was of a similar age to me, had a young family. He was a good family man, enjoyed motorsport and outdoor endeavours. He was a keen hunter.
"Everything he did involved his family and his children and his partner Sharon.''
Mr Derry said Mr Moore had been involved in jet-boat racing for about 10 years.
"He's very talented and had done very well both in New Zealand and internationally.''
Fellow racer and competitor Regan Williamson, of Queenstown, said he had raced with Mr Moore for about seven years and described him as "definitely a friendly guy''.
"He's been an awesome competitor over the years and he's been a leader of our small racing community, as well.
"He's a charismatic sort of guy who's got along with everyone and helped everyone.
"He was an outstanding sort of fellow, really.''
In a statement, the association said Mr Moore was a "passionate competitor of jet-boat river racing'' as well as other motorsport.
"Our heartfelt condolences are extended to Cameron's partner Sharon, her daughters Rosalinda and Neve, Cameron's son Seth, his mother Viki, and the extended family, parents Merv and Gail and sister Megan.''
He was also well known in recreational outdoor pursuits through his ownership of Ballinger's Hunting & Fishing in Christchurch.
Hunting & Fishing New Zealand chief executive Darren Jacobs said in a statement Mr Moore's death was "a great loss''.
"He was a popular, respected and highly successful member of our owner-operator community.''
Mr Jacobs said Mr Moore had owned the store for nine years.
In the past 18 months, the store had expanded to become one of the largest in the country.
Maritime New Zealand continues to investigate the circumstances of what happened and is being assisted by police.