Moves are being made which could see a sharp increase in the number of entries in the Napier Offshore Powerboat Race which had one of its best days on Saturday despite the still minimal number of entries.
Winning boat owner and throttleman Warren Lewis, who with driver John Shand took 10.3m Auckland-based catamaran Fairview to a fourth win in the race in five years, is looking forward to a possible merged national series with races run in the South Island.
It follows the revival of Timaru's Roaring 40s race, which has been included in this year's seven-stop series, which passed the halfway stage in Napier with Fairview hitting some of the fastest speeds in the race which was first held in the 1970s and after a short period in recess has, apart from one raceday cancellation, been held annually for about 30 years.
"There are 15-16 boats in this series and about 15 in the South Island," said Lewis, who is planning some of the other races will also get a taste of Fairview, which is one of just to Superboat 1000 class racers in the North Island this summer.
Bought new in the US more than 10 years ago, Fairview had, along with closest river and Whangarei-based machine Outboard Pro, undergone round-the-clock week-long repairs after the two boats collided just after a race finish off Whitianga on March 2.
Both made the start-line and finished the two 30-minute races into which the events at each venue, to enhance spectator appeal and also give boats a second chance in the event of minor mishaps, such as the blowing of a "50-cent fuse" which driver Shand says once cost Fairview an afternoon's racing.
There were 16 starters on Saturday but Fairview never missed a beat in its first timer back in the water since the collision.
Constantly lapping around 2min 50sec on the anti-clockwise course from the milling area off north Westshore towards the inner harbour entrance, across the Ahuriri seafront towards Napier and back towards Westshore, Fairview hit top speeds close to 195km/h, Lewis said.
The fastest speeds were hit on the shoreward side of the course, Lewis saying the calm conditions mean that Fairview was able to hit the bend near the inner harbour entrance at full throttle as it headed towards crowds watching from the Ahuriri shoreline.
Speed was, however, a problem for the only team of only Napier racer and former national driver's champion Tony Carson.
Co-driver in Classic-class entry Gull Force 10 he and boat owner Gavin McGrath, of Taupo, with three others on a boys afternoon-out boating, were disqualified, for going too fast.
As a non-canopied boat the monohull was governed by an 80mph limit, but was undone by the evidence from GPS tracking data which had to be downloaded afterward and showed a breach of the top speed by 0.6mph.