Winton racers take jet-boat marathon

Driver Steve Rapsey and navigator Adam Clement compete in a time trial on the upper Waiau River near Te Anau on Saturday. Photo: Craig Baxter

IT was father-and-son combination Roger and Ben (navigator) Preston, of Winton, who took out the first leg of the 2021 New Zealand Jet Boat River Racing marathon on the Upper Waiau River, near Te Anau, on Saturday.

Te Anau locals turned out to support racers on the first leg on Saturday and it was evident the crowd were there to watch the high-speed boats taking part in a first kick, to start the major event off with a seeding race on the Upper Waiau.

Many followed the second leg event on day two, which took place on the Lower Waiau River.

The event, from Lake Manapouri to 1.6km downstream to Te Anau Control Gates, was won by the Prestons in a time of 7.36, second place went to Mike Pooley in 7.48 and third John Derry in 7.54.

Jet Boat New Zealand national executive Paul Mullan said racing at Te Anau was great

“There’s no reason why the upper Waiau wouldn’t be used in the future.

“There were great facilities etc, although racing often changes locations around the South Island.

“Upper Waiau is a very good river for seeing boats’ speed, given it isn’t technically as challenging as some others such as the Oreti River.”

Twenty boats started out on Saturday, although attrition rate was commonplace for marathons as boats needed fixing.

Racing continued on the Oreti River on Monday, Mataura River on Tuesday, Dart River today and the Clutha River tomorrow, finishing up on the Matukituki on Saturday.

“It is great to see a good field of racers tackling a very challenging race programme of 1000-plus kilometres of racing across 23 legs over seven days on some of New Zealand’s most challenging braided rivers,” Mullan said.

“It will make it an exciting event.”

The gas turbine boats were capable of reaching speeds of about 235kmh.

“Even the slowest class, FX would be 90mph (145kmh),” he said.

The 2021 Awards Gala dinner and awards presentation would be held in Wanaka on Sunday.

  • For full results, go to or for the latest results, go to the New Zealand Jet Boat River Racing Association Facebook page.