Waverley hydroplane driver Jack Lupton has been to hell and back, crashing twice on the North American circuit, one of the crashes resulting in the death of a friend and fellow racer. Iain Hyndman catches up with Lupton now that he's back in town.
"I landed upside down and smashed the lid so water filled the cockpit pretty quickly."
Waverley hydroplane driver Jack Lupton's describing his experience the second of two horror crashes, in which his boat went flying as it flipped at 257km/h.
He was hurt, but emerged relatively unscathed.
But the first crash was more serious, and deadly.
Lupton has been apportioned no blame for the accident that ended the life of Canadian driver Mathieu Daoust at the 1000 Islands Regatta & Festival at Brockville, Ontario on June 30.
The event is part of the Hydroplane Racing League series and HRL, the governing body of racing in North America, confirms Lupton was not to blame.
On the HRL's official website, a statement described that in a qualifying event in the Grand Prix class, Mathieu Daoust was the victim of a loss of control that projected him into the trajectory of boat GP-57 Miss New Zealand and driver Jack Lupton who could not avoid the collision.
Breaking news: GP-57 Blowover
Jack Lupton in the GP-57 just blewover. Here is the footage. Jack is ok. Internet provided by: www.mywificube.com, #WiFiCube #Travel #GetWiFi #UnlimitedData Web: hrlhydroplane.com Facebook : Hydroplane Racing League Instagram : hrlhydroplane #GPseries #hrl2019 #hrlvalleyfield Twitter: @HRLhydroplane Téléchargez l’application officielle de la HRL Download the Official HRL Mobile AppPosted by Hydroplane Racing League on Saturday, 13 July 2019
"We are talking here about two experienced drivers: Jack, who despite his young age, has been racing on International hydroplane racing circuits for more than six years, and Mathieu who was in his 8th season," the statement said.
"Six races in various classes had been completed before the accident. It is on this basis that an investigation has been opened to determine causes and solutions. Both boats remain in Brockville for this purpose and HRL will examine with great interest each of the recommendations that will result."
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HRL board chairman Didier-Bernard Séguin, who was present at the event, thanked and underlined the professionalism and support shown by the race teams, the drivers, the officials and the first responders.
"The pain from this loss we mourn as an organisation," he said.
"HRL is a big family. All the drivers and their relatives know each other and meet each other every weekend."
The website statement went on to say the organisation wished to reiterate its condolences to the family and loved ones of Daoust, who lost his life at the wheel of GP-9 Miss Cleopatra.
Understandably, the accident weighs heavily on Lupton's mind and in talking to the Chronicle he was reluctant to relive the incident other than to express his condolences and sorrow to the family of Daoust.
"We are all friends on the circuit and Mathieu was my friend. I know his family and this accident was just horrible," Lupton said.
He escaped serious injury.
Lupton, his brother Ken and cousin David Alexander were all racing in the series and returned home to Waverley on Thursday.
This was Lupton's third season at the HRL series.
"Three years ago we came over the check it out and for the past two years we have competed," Lupton said.
A week after the Brockville incident, Lupton again crashed in spectacular and scary fashion at the Régates de Valleyfield leg of the series. Valleyfield, in Quebec, is the Mecca for hydroplanes and regarded as the Super Bowl of the sport.
Lupton had teamed up with Alexander and replaced his cousin's race boat number GP 577 with his own GP 57 to carry points through from previous legs.
While racing in a qualifying heat Lupton flipped the boat, somersaulting through the air landing upside down. Hydroplanes are designed to do just that, hydroplane on the surface of the water, but it is a fine line and when the boat leaves the water surface air gets under the hull, lifting the craft into the air.
"I felt it go and tried to fight it and work it back down to the water, but all of a sudden I was in the air and somersaulting. I was probably doing just over 160mph (257km/h) and it was scary, I can tell you," Lupton said.
"I landed upside down and smashed the lid so water filled the cockpit pretty quickly. It's difficult enough unhooking your helmet from the airlines and undoing safety harnesses at the best of times, but upside down under water and with gloves still on makes it really hard. I didn't panic, but I was sore and I'm black and blue all over now - I definitely don't want to do that again."
Rather than dwell on his own state of mind and injuries, Lupton was more concerned about wrecking his cousin's boat.
"It was a brand new boat and David had it flying. It was probably the fastest boat on the circuit and he recorded one of the best lap times during qualifying. David had placed second in one heat and Ken third in his, so were doing really well. Unfortunately Ken's boat, GP 777, had mechanical problems, so couldn't show his best form.
"My first priority is to rebuild David's boat, mine can wait. I feel really bad for David. I'd love to get back over to North America at some stage, but I need to fix David's first."
This season the Waverley crews have had their engines built in Canada rather than use the engine-building skills of Whanganui mechanic Grant Rivers of Rivers Speed and Spares.
"Grant has built engines for us here in New Zealand and is an absolute genius, but it was easier for us to get them build over there to race in the series and get Grant to come over and tune them for us. Without his skills we simply couldn't do what we do - he's a legend," Lupton said.