A New Plymouth family was full of anticipation before its Bowtie Boogie motorboat started in a race to honour a man who died before he could rev up the engine.
Seventeen-year-old Luke Buttimore piloted the bright red boat through a North Island title race in the Wanganui Motor Boat Club's King of the River regatta on Friday, January 1. He had raced smaller boats before, but only had his first brief try in the Bowtie that morning.
The boat can reach speeds of 150km/h on the water and hitting a log could cause a serious injury, but Luke didn't admit to any nerves.
Instead he was "excited to get in a real boat".
Luke's mother Angela Buttimore said she and her husband Jason bought the Bowtie from a friend after it was sunk in a racing accident on Lake Rotoiti.
It was repaired in Wellington, but on the day they went to pick it up Jason Buttimore suffered a major heart attack and died.
"He never got to race her or see her fixed or fully painted," Angela said.
The boat was brought back to New Plymouth in August, and Reform Panel's Aaron Biggar painted and sponsored it. It is built to race, with a flat Revenge hull and a 355 Chevrolet engine that only went in two days earlier.
Friday morning's racing was delayed because the incoming high tide, pulled by a full moon, was pushing logs upriver. Hitting a log can rip a racing boat apart and cause an accident, Wanganui Motor Boat Club committee member Tony Ward said.
There were 40 boats lined up along the riverbank ready to race, and Ward expected thousands of people would be watching from the banks once the noise of motors began.
On the riverbank spectators had set themselves up for the day with tents and awnings, and a food truck was on hand for icecream and hot chips.
Between the Dublin St and Railway bridges the river was closed to all but the racers and the Waimarie and Wairua riverboats.
There has never been a serious accident at the club's annual regatta, Ward said, but there were paramedic divers on boats and a paramedic on the bank in a rescue unit just in case.
Monique Black and her partner Mark Christie came from Upper Hutt for two days of racing.
Black, a former Whanganui resident, was making a return after six years away and seeing familiar faces. She previously raced her boat Just Crazy in Whanganui, Porirua, at lakes Karapiro and Maraetai and on the Manawatū, Whanganui and Ruamahanga rivers. She has sold the boat, but may get another one.
"I miss [the racing] terribly," she said.
It's an expensive sport, with the cost of a boat, an entry fee to races, travel and accommodation to pay for. Not to mention the three 20 litre containers of petrol Black might use in a weekend of racing.
Christie said he likes watching motor racing, and wouldn't mind trying it out in a boat.