No holding back on rapid hydroplane

By Iain Hyndman

Waverley racer Ken Lupton will throw himself in at the deep end when he debuts his new hydroplane at the Acceleration On Water - Festival of Speed event in Wanganui next month.

The Wanganui leg on December 8-9 coincides with the annual Aon Billy Web Rowing Challenge and is the second round of the New Zealand Grand Prix Hydroplane Championships.

Lupton has sold his Annihilator 3 hydroplane and has bought a new, lighter, faster and more agile machine built by Ron Jones, a top American boat builder, and aptly named "Cheetah".

However, Lupton's new machine does not arrive in the country until November 30, so he will miss the first round of the NZ Grand Prix on Lake Dunstan in Cromwell on November 24-25.

Festival of Speed Tour organiser Denise Moughan said Lupton would have only the best part of a week to get accustomed to his new machine before its debut in the Downtown Wanganui leg.

"That's pretty scary stuff because Ken's new boat is lighter, faster and more agile than Annihilator 3 and the track on the Whanganui River is tight-turning," Moughan said.

Fellow Waverley racers Warwick Lupton (Ken's father), David Alexander and newcomer Jack Lupton are also set to run.

"Warwick and David will compete in Cromwell and Jack, Ken's 17-year-old younger brother, will make his debut at Wanganui, probably in Chris Picard's boat.

"He's very much a learner but he's keen."

Moughan said the Downtown Wanganui leg would begin off the marina adjacent to the city bridge on Saturday, December 8, about 11am.

It would not clash with the Billy Webb Challenge which would be racing up the river on the Aramoho course at that stage.

"On the day of the Billy Webb on the Sunday we will start afterwards in the early afternoon. The hydroplanes will be timed during the flying laps, but we will also feature the Formula One Tunnels which will race in pairs in a pursuits format. Their times will be pitted against the hydroplanes to determine a winner. They go pretty quick because they are small and more agile, but if Ken can keep his new hydroplane on the water, he will certainly give them a nudge," Moughan said.

Other legs of the NZ Grand Prix will be at Lake Karapiro on February 2-3, Tauranga February 16-17, Queenstown March 24-25 and then the final round in Cromwell at Easter (March 30-31).

"At the end of the season our top boats will head to Australia to compete for the EC Griffiths Trophy and that's why Ken has bought his new boat - he really wants to bring the EC Griffiths back to New Zealand," Moughan said.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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