The 2013 UIM World Jet Boat Marathon starts today on the Waitaki river.
Seven rivers across Otago and Southland will hold 17 legs of racing as the boats travel over 950 kilometres in seven days.
Race organiser Tim Guthrie said the two and a half years of planning would finally come into action during the week.
There were 39 entered boats across four classes, which included seven entries from Canada and one entry from Mexico.
The last time a Mexican racer had entered the championship was more than 20 years ago and Guthrie said it would add something different to the event.
"There's also a very, very strong field of Southland racers," he said.
This included Winton racer Roger Preston, who holds the New Zealand 2 title.
Last year, Guthrie and his team had organised the New Zealand jet boat marathon and had used the event as a pre-run for the world championships.
The most challenging part, Guthrie said, would be getting all 39 of the boats into a river in a 30-minute time period but, with the help of nearly 40 volunteer officials, he hoped it would all run smoothly.
Guthrie said the wild card to watch out for would be Regan Williamson and Pete Reid, of Queenstown.
"It's going to be the first major test for Regan and Pete in the boat, now they've got the speed out of it," Guthrie said.
The race would feature a contingent of helicopter gas turbine engine-powered boats that were capable of up to 225kmh (140mph).
Winton racer Garth McMaster, who was competing in the A class, had been preparing for the championship for the last six months.
"We did a lot of preparation last year with the New Zealand champs," McMaster said.
During the past two weeks McMaster and his navigator Phillip Stirling had pre-run all of the river involved in the championships.
McMaster said the three rivers that would be most challenging were the Dart, the Matukituki and the Oreti, as the others were big and open and would allow the bigger boats to pick up speed.
"We're hoping to have more of an advantage on the harder rivers," McMaster said.
The championship runs until next Friday and viewing is free to the public.
- © Fairfax NZ News