Oreti Beach race hinges on weather

BRENDON EGAN
Last updated 05:00 23/11/2012

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Beach race organiser Craig Hyde is praying that the weather gods will be on his side on the third day of the Burt Munro Challenge today.

Bad weather and problems with tides at Oreti Beach have thwarted the New Zealand Beach Racing Championship at the Challenge, with the event being cancelled in two of the past three years.

Today's forecast is promising, with morning showers expected to ease, a high of 17 degrees Celsius and winds of 30kmh.

The beach racing is the most weather-dependent event of the Burt Munro Challenge, and Hyde hoped Mother Nature would play her part.

"It's amazing how many people it pulls in, even in the bad weather and when it's very windy out there and we've run it.

"It's one of the premier parts of the (Burt Munro) event.

Contingency plans have been put in place if the weather is treacherous today, with a substitute grass racing event planned at the north end of Bill Richardson Dr.

Hyde said they would make a final call on the beach racing at 1.30pm, but was optimistic it would not have to come to that.

The beach racing event of the Challenge carries plenty of prestige, considering Oreti Beach was Burt Munro's playground for testing his 1920 Indian Twin Scout motorbike.

Each class will have two practice runs and two heats tonight. The attention will then turn to the Mrs Irving Hayes Cup one-mile dash and the Burt Munro Trophy 50 mile race.

The leading contenders in the 50-mile race are likely to include previous winners, Greg Baynes, of Invercargill, former Southlander Jason Feaver, and Chris Manson, of Oamaru.

Feaver is the defending champion of the 50-mile event, when it was last held in 2010.

The 50-mile race is as much about tactics as it is endurance. The bikes will need to go in for a petrol refuel at some point during the hour-long race and riders must decide the best time to top up.

"You do usually have to stop halfway," Hyde said.

"There's a lot of tactical stuff too. If you don't have to stop it's a huge advantage."

Hyde said there was not much they could do preparation-wise until today. A group of about 20 volunteers will help erect the fencing, and clear the beach of any large logs.

Practice sessions begin at 3.30pm, with racing getting under way from 4.30pm.

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- The Southland Times

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