Farmer builds jetboat track in back yard
FARMER Pete Connor loves jetboat sprints so much that he built a track in a lake in his back yard.
Jetboat racers like it so much they are going to hold a leg of the national championships there, which will attract more than 2000 spectators to his rural Crownthorpe property, near Hastings.
Thousand-horsepower jetboats will thunder around the riverside jet track next March. However, Mr Connor will not be driving, as he has been too busy preparing the course.
“Our boat doesn’t go yet – it’s a work in progress,” he said. “The boat’s on the back burner while the track is developed.
“It will be a superboat with a supercharged Chev V8. These engines can make anything from 700 to 1500hp, though 1500 is a bit extreme.”
Mr Connor, who runs a jetboat tourism business as well as a dairy-beef farm with his wife, Robyn, had no intention of building a track that would become part of the six-round national championship series.
He modified a small, spring-fed lake on the farm so he could try running a jetboat.
“It was just for fun – but the jetsprint guys heard about it and it’s just sort of grown.”
Tests on an early version of the track, in July, proved that the venue could be constructed to championship standard.
As well as forming the tight course, with islands built in the lake, he and fellow developer Matthew Magill are constructing spectator banks that will have room for at least 5000 fans. Championship events normally attract crowds of about 2000 adults, as well as their children.
About 50 boat racers, including superboat world champion Peter Briant, from Gisborne, are expected to take part in the meeting on March 2.
Photo caption – Water world: Pete Connor built his sprint boat track on his farm so he could practise racing, but the track was so good it is to hold a leg of the six-round national championship series.
Photo: LYNDA FORREST