Blokart national open champs setting sail at Ardmore Airport.

About 60 of the country's best blokarters will come together in Auckland next week for the New Zealand blokart open championships.

It is estimated there are more than 2000 sailors casually involved in the sport in New Zealand with the number peaking in summer. Competitively the sport is on an upward trend.

"There is around 200-300 in New Zealand who are part of an organised club, although these numbers fluctuate a bit as well," said Russell Harray of the Auckland Blokarting Club.

"We always have plenty of new sailors joining up but get to lose a few as well as they go on to other activities.

Advertisement

"Normally once you try it, you are hooked and have to buy a blokart but that doesn't mean joining the local club unfortunately."

For the converted there is no better sport.

The blokart was first sold in New Zealand in 2000 at the Auckland Boat Show.

This year there were 40 New Zealand sailors at the third world Championships in the US.

This year the Auckland Blokart Club is hosting the national event at Ardmore Airport from October 3-6 for the first time.

The club has been based at Ardmore for two years and has developed a world-class race area. Early this year, the club put in two new cross tracks and sealed a major part of the existing area to make a fast, smooth surface. With about 700 metres of runway plus the newly sealed area there will be fast, close racing on what is recognised as the best track in New Zealand.

The event is run by the NZ Blokart Association and caters for sailors in four weight divisions. There are three entries from Australia plus from throughout New Zealand including two world champions and three past world champions, all from the Auckland and Bay of Plenty area. This will make for some close, exciting racing.

Favourites for their divisions will be current world champions Sarah Tootill, racing in the lightweight division (under 70kg), and Wayne Osbourne, who races the super heavyweight division (over 90kg). Both have been racing in the Auckland winter series and have put that practice to good use and are ready to take on the rest of New Zealand.

Advertisement

Osbourne has opposition from Paul Beckett, the designer of the blokart and a previous world champion, and Theo Vondervoort, who has been runner-up at all three world championships.

In the middleweight (70-80kg) and heavyweight (80-90kg) divisions there are numerous sailors ready to fight for the title. These two divisions have the most entries, which makes the starts very busy as competitors go through a two-minute dial-up before the start gun and the mark roundings become important with places to be gained from getting it right.

The Ardmore Airport track is designed for upwind/downwind racing over a long course so getting sailing angles correct is important to hitting top speed. With the races over a 10-minute period, the blokarts will have travelled over 6km in a good wind, hitting speeds of 70km/h on the fast downwind legs.