After a two-year hiatus, Mount Maunganui’s ASB Baypark stadium buzzed into activity in preparation for the eagerly anticipated Enzed Stadium Jetsprints. There would only be one problem leading up to the event, with a dry spell causing an inconvenient water shortage. Not wanting to use the city water supply to fill the indoor water track, the nearby storage pond provided a relatively easy contingency plan — while it wasn’t clean water per se, it was fine, with no bugs of germs in it. Problem solved!

Practice began around midday on the Saturday of January 27, and with 30 boats entered across three different classes, this provided a good insight into the scale of the event to come. The Stinger Boats Group B class serves as a development class, with V8 engines up to 412ci and 500hp. The next step up is the Fowler Homes Group A class, keeping displacement at a maximum of 412ci, but allowing for bigger cams, carbs, and jets. To step up from Group A is a massive commitment, because the Mouthfresh Superboats are the kings of the sport — big cubes, turbos, superchargers, methanol, anything goes!

The Stinger Boats Group B class contained six boats, with Hayden and Amanda Wilson qualifying in first, with a 65.301s. The pair would soldier on through the event to emerge the eventual Group B winners by the end of it all.  

Stiffer competition waited in the Fowler Homes Group A class, with 12 entrants, and a tightly-packed playing field. Ross and Shane Travers qualified in the number one spot, with a 61.278. Just as in the Group B class, it would be the top qualifiers coming out on top at the end, with a 60.190s. 

In the Mouthfresh Superboats class, it was another 12 on 12, turned up to 11. Rob and Ange Coley came out on top in the qualifying round, punching out a blistering 58.537s. By the end of it all, Peter Caughey and Shama Putaranui took top honours with the quickest run of the night — an incredible 55.768s. 

One of the most impressive machines in competition was Rob and Ange Coley’s ‘Poison Ivy’, powered by a 705ci Donovan big block pumping out 1170hp. Rob is a very good driver — when he’s on, he’s on, and when he’s off, the crashes are almost always spectacular. Despite getting off to a good start by qualifying first, he crashed out in the top nine.

One competitor even made it over from Western Australia — ‘Frankensztain’ driven by Ted and Darek Sygidus, with co-drivers Brayden and Scott Munro. It looked like they had a fun time, although they didn’t do too well from a racing perspective, with several crashes. Even so, they managed a best time of 60.66s — pretty impressive stuff! 

3NZ, ‘Girl Torque’ was piloted by Kellie Minnell and navigator Sherie Patterson, running a best of 69.746s. However, it wouldn’t end well as they lost it on a corner, traveling a fair distance before hitting a haybale. The end result was a body that looked somewhat second-hand.

The Harvest Transport boat, piloted by Blake Briant and navigator Kate Hoogerbrug, runs a GM Motorsport 512ci LS good for somewhere around 960hp. Unfortunately, their best of 61.512s wasn’t quite enough to make it to the top six.

Even 1NZ, Peter Caughey and Shama Putaranui, who’ve won just about everything in the jetsprint world, have their bad runs. They obviously know what they are doing, though, coming out on top of the Mouthfresh Superboat class table — a seriously impressive accomplishment. 

2NZ, Simon Gibbon and Paul Thompson, got a bit wet inside their Novus-sponsored Group A boat on the tricky second corner. 

And the pit entry corner also gave its fair share of drama, with the haybales taking a hammering from two boats — Harry Wheelands and Jason Conroy in 158, and Scott Andrew and Toby Rice in 33. 

Elsewhere, the Eagle Automotive boat, driven by Neil Marshall and navigated by Haley Bruning, went for a big swim, sinking and requiring the crane to empty the water out of it.

David Simmons and John Verry hail from the Napier area and have been racing for several years now, running in the Mouthfresh Superboats class. Their monster machine sports a supercharged 6.2-litre LSA good for 950hp and a 62.714s qualifying run. Unfortunately, they were unable to make it through the top nine.

The only all-female Mouthfresh Superboat team, Pip Thompson and Megan Brodie, qualified with a 67.622s — not quite there for the top nine, but they never crashed and finished all their runs, which was better than some. 

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