South Island place to race

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Running out of fuel while leading two races in a row was not the performance two Aucklanders were looking for on the South Island power boat circuit, but they would rather be down here than racing in the North Island.


It is cheaper for a start, and the people are really friendly, Brett and Ryan Archer say.


And it has an added attraction for Brett – it is his first season in driving power boats in a three generation dynasty.


Brett’s uncle Ryan owns and co-pilots the Stealth tunnel hull racing boat Secret Agent, with its modified 300hp outboard.


Their grandfather and father Ron started the family involvement in 1955 when power boat racing was just getting under way in New Zealand.


On Saturday, all three were in Oamaru for the 100km offshore race.


At the last event in Te Anau, Brett and Ryan in Secret Agent were leading the race, and their class in points, when they ran out of fuel.


The class points lead was taken over by 88AT, driven by Tim Fellows, with co-pilot Steve Freeborn, both of Otaki.


In the Oamaru race on Saturday they were swapping leads when the Otaki pair’s boat had an engine failure, leaving the Archers in overall lead and poised to take the class points lead.


But disaster struck a second time and the Archers ran out of fuel on the last lap, a combination of misjudging how long the race would take combined with a false start.


But they will be back, with enough South Island races left to win the class title.


Ryan said doing the whole North Island circuit was very expensive because of the extra requirements, although they did compete in some events.


The Oamaru entry fee was $85, the North Island circuit requires an up-front fee of $1800, then there are the costs of driver’s licences, medical fees, extra fees to pay for helicopter and television coverage. Added to that is transport, accommodation and food.


In the end, even with air fares and accommodation, it works out cheaper to race in the South Island.


While it is Brett’s first season driving, Ryan has raced from the age of 13, with his father Ron.


Ron started off building a boat for water skiing, then got bitten by the racing bug in 1955.


He competed until the late 1980s and, even at 80, still takes a keen interest in the sport.


First home on Saturday was Mark Dingleman (driver), of Wellington, with co-pilot Nigel Smethurst, of Christchurch, in Sniper. They also won the A class.


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