EXCLUSIVE: V8 jet sprints returning to Bay

By Sonya Bateson

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NZ Jetsprint Championships at Baypark Stadium. Driver Harry Wheelans and Navigator Jason Conroy competing in the PSP Ltd Group A. Photo/file
NZ Jetsprint Championships at Baypark Stadium. Driver Harry Wheelans and Navigator Jason Conroy competing in the PSP Ltd Group A. Photo/file

EXCLUSIVE: The success of this year's V8 Jet Sprints at ASB Baypark has brought the event back for a guaranteed three years.

Bay Venues, the organisation that manages ASB Baypark, signed a contract with Jet Sprint Bay of Plenty and New Zealand Jet Sprint Association on Saturday to keep the V8 Jet Sprints at ASB Baypark for three years after the first event was held on January 25.

Jet Sprints Bay of Plenty event director Pip Minnell said this year's event was an overwhelming success and would be returning to Tauranga for the next three Auckland Anniversary weekends.

"It will be a two-day event. Double the days, double the action and double the thrills and spills."

SPRINTS: NZJSA president Erik Hoeksema, Bay Venues commercial manager Ervin McSweeney and Jet Sprints Bay of Plenty event director Pip Minnell have brought the V8 Jet Sprints back to Tauranga.PHOTO/JOHN BORREN
SPRINTS: NZJSA president Erik Hoeksema, Bay Venues commercial manager Ervin McSweeney and Jet Sprints Bay of Plenty event director Pip Minnell have brought the V8 Jet Sprints back to Tauranga.PHOTO/JOHN BORREN

Interest in the event had already come from Australia and the United States, as well as from boaters around New Zealand.

Mrs Minnell said the course would be built bigger than it was at this year's event, which needed 180 truckloads of dirt removed from ASB Stadium.

"There will be a new track with a new route, with the aim of being faster and more spectacular."

She said a lot of people had been asking whether the event would return to Tauranga and public interest was huge. Fifteen thousand people had attended this year's inaugural event. Baypark's capacity is about 19,000.

"We're looking to fill the place twice. I've heard people say the city was divided into two groups after the first one - those who went to the jet sprints and those who wished they went."

She said at the last event 53 boats had taken part and next year she was hoping for more than 60.

Bay Venues commercial manager Ervin McSweeney said the next jet sprints would have a faster course.

"They will try [to] create areas where the boats can go quicker. The methodology for the way we do it will probably be similar to last year."

Mr McSweeney said Bay Venues was creating a purpose-built launch area out of concrete that would be buried 1m deep when not in use at the edge of the oval.

"It will be permanently under the turf. It's a world-first investment and an investment in the future of the event. That's the area that will get the most heavy use."

He hoped the Tauranga City Council would support the event by helping out with promotion to attract bigger crowds.

New Zealand Jet Sprint Association president Erik Hoeksema said four or five Australian competitors had already said they would take part as well as two, maybe three, from the United States.

"We're more concerned about the numbers we are going to get rather than not having enough. We may have to limit the entrants."

Members of the association would be going to the world series in Missouri in August and would be promoting the event there, Mr Hoeksema said. He hoped that, in turn, would help bring the UIM World Championships to Tauranga and Auckland in 2016.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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