Peter is a sports writer at the Bay of Plenty Times

Motorsport: Sprint spectacular back at Baypark

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Spectacular action is guaranteed at the final round of the ENZED 2016 UIM Jet Spring World Championship at ABS Baypark next Saturday. Photo/file
Spectacular action is guaranteed at the final round of the ENZED 2016 UIM Jet Spring World Championship at ABS Baypark next Saturday. Photo/file

The unforgettable live experience of jet sprint boats in all their full-throttle glory returns to ASB Baypark next Saturday after near sell-out crowds for the past two years.

Up to 60 high-powered boats with drivers from the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand will battle for world titles across three classes in the second and final round of the ENZED 2016 UIM Jet Sprint World Championship.

The UIM World Series is a biennial event that rotates around the United States, Australia and New Zealand. It is not scheduled to return to our shores until 2022.

Work continues this week on turning ASB Baypark into a jet sprint course. Photo/John Borren
Work continues this week on turning ASB Baypark into a jet sprint course. Photo/John Borren

For adrenalin junkies there is nothing quite like watching jet boats reaching 0-100km/h in under two seconds, and pulling up to 7Gs on the winding, water-filled race track that is undergoing a transformation from what was once a rugby field.

Leading the Kiwi charge is Peter Caughey, multiple NZ1 champion and current world unlimited superboat No1 driver.

Caughey, who suffered the only major crash of a long career at Meremere before Christmas, says the event at Baypark gets better each year.

"Last season we had a designated concrete launch ramp area and that alleviated a lot of the issues with sand movement around the track and wash in the launch area. The race controller Eric Hoeksema, who also helped design the track, and his team draw out so much knowledge and help from those around them and they just keep learning.

"It is an awesome facility and is just such a great crowd to race in front of. Honestly it is the only venue I can recall in recent times where during the race occasionally you actually hear the spectators. It is partly because of the numbers but also the facility is so compact and generates so much excitement around that stadium. It is something special, it really is."

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Last year's winner at Baypark, Phonsy Mullan, is back and the three-time Australian champion and recently crowned Unlimited SuperboatNo1 leads a strong Australian group, including Greg Mercier, with seven national titles between them.

Caughey, who is the owner of Sprintec which makes a large proportion of the jet sprint superboat hulls, says Mullan will be right in the mix.

"Phonsy has been hugely focused on trying to secure a world title and he has improved a lot over the last three to four years. We know he has a great boat - it's one of ours - with plenty of horsepower and is definitely a serious contender," Caughey said.

"There are so many good Kiwis in the running like Leighton Minnell, past world champion of course, Peter Caughey the Wanganui rocket who has won at Baypark, Graeme Hill, Richard Burt. But you just can't discount anyone."

Families will be well catered for with a family fun zone playground, water slide and balloons away from the racing.

The pits will be open for a limited session so spectators can meet the teams and see the boats up close.

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