Flying with 'the Jet' and 'Hotdog'

By David Ogilvie


"Jenny the Jet'' and "Hotdog Hales'' flying down the Ohakea straight together sounds like something out of mid-50s United States just after rock-and-roll hit town.

Rather, they're the names given their blokarts by Auckland blokarters Bruce and Jenny Hales, who head the powerful challenge from their club in the New Zealand Masters Games blokarting being held at Ohakea during the February 1-10 games.

Palmerston North offers some sort of a challenge with several karts, but in the games so far it's been pretty much an Auckland (Ardmore) thing.

Blokarting is a relatively new sport which has been in development for about 10 years. Blokarts are a one-design sail-powered vehicle invented and developed by Paul Beckett in Papamoa about 12 years ago and originally were intended for family entertainment. Bruce Hales explains.

``Paul (we call him the Guru) is a living legend really and often features in the list of New Zealand's great backyard inventers. ``With 12,000 or more of these totally fun and entertaining grownup `toys' sold all over the world, his is a special story on its own.

``I guess blokarting became a sport the day two people decided to sail together somewhere in a beach carpark _ natural instinct to be faster than the other guy!

``Russell Harray _ past president of the Auckland Blokart Club _ was instrumental in the development of the competitive side of blokarting and, among other competitions, Masters Games involvement.

` My wife Jenny, Jon Davies and I were entrants in the inaugural Blokart MG Competition in Wanganui in 1997 _ this was a great big day for me as I won the gold medal in the heavyweight division _ my first major solo sporting victory really _ and it is fair to say I have dined out on this experience ever since!

``Jon won the bronze medal in the lightweights and so both of us are MG converts. Since then Jon's wife Rosemary has become a competitive Blokarter too and the four of us often travel to venues in the North Island sharing transport and hilarious travel incidents.''

Why is it at Ohakea?

``Wanganui does not have an all-weather and large enough track for us but fortunately just down the road at Ohakea, Russell (Harray) has secured access to the airfield since 2009 so we can participate close to the main MG competition.

``The great thing about blokarting is that it is such an accessible and widely suitable sporting activity in regard to participation and although Master's Games imposes an age minimum _ in all other respects _ fully able or partially disabled, young or old, male or female, light or heavy, we compete against each other. Masters Games with its central location attracts competitors from all over New Zealand and is one of the largest national competitions we attend.''

Jock Bilger

Jochum Victor (Jock) Bilger was born in Rustengerg in Northern Transvaal, but repped for New Zealand in the 1972 Munich Olympics and the 1976 Montreal Olympics with Murray Ross in the Flying Dutchman, finishing ninth and 12th. He was also twice silver medallist at World Olympic Flying Dutchman Yachting championships, 1971 and 1975.

That's a long time ago, but he will run out the laser yacht again in Wanganui.

``I have attended the Wanganui Masters every time since my retirement _ I am now 76 years old and we always come as we stay with very close friends, Sue and Russel Poff (they are golfers too).

``I have medalled each time in my speciality sport, sailing _ four golds and two silvers. My wife (Jan) has competed very successfully in her speciality sport _ golf, four golds and two silvers (She was Remuera women's golf champion 1999 and twice Masters champion),'' says Bilger.

``I only do low-key club sailing in my laser now. Play golf twice a week _ never as well as Jan _ but had a highlight three weeks ago when I had a hole in one! (Jan has already had two holes in one in her golfing career).''

The hole-in-one came at Bilger's club, Chamberlain Park.

Netball and a Wellington connection

Robyn Herbison talks about herself as ``the old gal'' in any picture of a Wellington East ``Diehards'' netball team.

Why? She started the Masters Games thing at her club, and one team became two _ and two teams became three. She talks about the first team _ the oldest.

``I have played for Wellington East Netball Club for 40 years and (we) have all flagged the training and just turn up every Saturday during the winter series to play our netball. We are all still current premier players and love playing in the New Zealand Masters Games as we can finally get a crack at playing our own age group for a change.

``Our Saturday competition sees us playing against top college teams and other clubs around the age groups teens to early 30s. We're so over playing the school kids _ they have youth and fitness but we have age and experience on our side so can still win.

``Diehards'' is our Masters playing name but all of Wellington East Club know us as that name. We have played New Zealand Masters for 13 years and have come away with a medal at every game.

``We started off just playing in Wanganui every second year but needed more so we now do Dunedin. Time for a change _ Aussie was looking great. Had a good time with 10 girls and hope to head back there in two more years to get our hands on their GOLD.''

So how did it all grow?

``We started in 1999 with just one team and over the past few years have had the two teams ... but now our other Wellington East Club members who have reached 30 and also want to come and join us. They will play under Diehards Toddlers. The ``Toddlers'' team are all current Prem Res 1 champs, winning their grade this season.

``The last time we entered in Wanganui we went into the 50+ grade but had no competition so got handed our gold medal. We competed in the 45+ section but could not do the finals as we already had our 50+ medal.''

The Juniors team played in the 40+ and also came away with a medal. We have Diehards Snrs 45+ _ even though we have eight over 50 years young, it is better competition in 45plus.''-->-->

- WANGANUI CHRONICLE

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