Southern rivers ready for racing

Winton jet-boat driver Roger Preston, with navigator and son Jack Preston, will be competing in the 2021 New Zealand Jet Boat River Racing Marathon which starts on the Upper Waiau River on October 16. Preston will be competing with his other son Ben as navigator in the marathon. Photo: Mike Smith, SSS Engineering

TE Anau will host the first leg of the 2021 New Zealand Jet Boat River Racing Marathon on the Upper Waiau River on Saturday, October 16.

Race co-organiser Tim Guthrie, of Dunedin, said the marathon river racing had previously been held on lower South Island rivers but it was the first time it would be raced on the Upper Waiau.

The association will begin the event with a seeding race on the Upper Waiau, he said.

“We feel it’s also great to support an area that has been impacted by the closed borders.”

There were 20 registered entries with three or four entries lost due to the Covid-19 situation, he said.

“With the borders shut and Covid-19 worldwide, it has also stopped international racers from the other competing nations, USA, Canada and Mexico, from coming to the Holy Grail of jet boat river racing Zealand.”

However, it was great to see a good field of racers tackling a very challenging race programme of more than 1000km of racing across seven days on some of New Zealand’s most challenging braided rivers, he said.

A pre-race registration, technical inspection and boat show would take place at the Real Journeys workshop on Saturday, October 16, from 8am to noon.

The drivers’ welcome and briefing would be held at noon at the same location.

At 3pm, racing will start upstream from the Lake Manapouri end with 20 boats leaving at 1-minute intervals, finishing at the control gates, a distance of about 21km.

The full programme included 23 legs during seven days of racing.

The event would run until October 24 with the Lower Waiau from Redcliff Creek Confluence to Tuatapere (two legs), Oreti River (four legs), Mataura River (four legs), Lower Clutha River, Dart River (four legs), Clutha River (four legs) and Matukituki River (four legs) throughout the week.

The 2021 awards gala dinner and awards presentation would be held in Wanaka on Sunday, October 24.