New Zealand's No 1offshore powerboat Fairview is expected to start tomorrow's Napier race after major repairs since colliding with a major rival just after the end of the last national drivers championship race a fortnight ago.
Co-driver John Shand, who arrived in Napier yesterday with catamaran Fairview and owner Warren Lewis, said the 34ft racer would probably be the star attraction when at least four of the race fleet are lowered into the water by crane alongside the Napier Sailing Club from 10am.
About 20 boats are expected at the start-line north off Westshore of the anti-clockwise course that heads towards the Napier Inner Harbour entrance, across the face of the Ahuriri beachfront towards Napier Port and back to the north. Racing will be in two legs, the first starting at noon and the second at 1pm.
Auckland-based Fairview and Whangarei catamaran Outboard Pro collided soon after the end of the Whitianga race on March 2, each receiving similar bow damage.
Fairview was in the East Tamaki yard of boatbuilders Stevenson by 6am Monday, with engines and drive already removed, and was worked on around-the-clock for more than a week to get ti back into trim.
"We literally backed it out of the workshop and drove to Napier," said Shand, who is also president of the New Zealand Offshore Powerboat Racing Association.
There was no naming and blaming, Outward Pro and drivers Hayden Speirs and Allan Branch enduring much the same schedule before also heading south.
The teams traded parts too make sure everything would be right, and met for a "few beers" in Taupo before heading to Napier yesterday.
Fairview was a million dollar purchase new from the United States and has been a feature of New Zealand offshore racing for the last decade.
With two races scheduled for each venue the first was on Lake Taupo on January 27, where a second race was abandoned. Two were held at Gisborne on February 9 and two more at Whitianga.
First held in the 1970s and then continuously for the last 30 years, apart from race-day cancellation, the Napier race is the longest-running of those currently in the series which has traditionally been held only on North Island courses.
But the South Island is on the schedule this year. The series next heads to Marsden Cove on April 13, Doubtless Bay on April 27 and ends on Caroline Bay, Timaru, on May 18.
Host-city interest today will be maintained by former national drivers champion Tony Carson in Taupo-based classic class monohull Gull Force 10, with boat owner Gavin McGrath.