It was a big step for 14-year-old Ethan French to travel to Foxton to compete in Junior Clubman Powerboat Championships in his first season of racing.
He is the leading junior in the South Island but went to compete against 12 to 16-year-olds from all over New Zealand.
''He usually races against senior class members as there aren't juniors competing in the South Island, but it is a rapidly growing class of powerboat racing,'' support crew and father Russell Cloake said.
''Clubman class is for the smallest boats involved in circuit racing, run with a stock 25hp outboard motor which can race at speeds between 70 and 80kmh.''
It was a long road journey for Ethan, going to race on the Manawatu River as part of the annual Manawatu Regatta.
In his first serious racing he competed at Nelson's Lake Rotoiti, coming seventh out of 17 contestants in the South Island senior Clubman championship.
The South Island Clubman series, over four regattas, has one event to go at Lake Canary at Hokitika at Easter.
A race is usually four laps of up to a kilometre, depending on conditions and race organisers.
His skills have indhcreased markedly, especidhally through using Howard Boyd's irrigation pond for practising,'' Mr Cloake said.
''We only purchased the boat this year and have spent a lot of time tuning the motor, painting it and trying to get the right balance to get the best out of it, alongside fundraising to help.''
Ethan was enjoying the racing and the chance to hang out with the big shots in their fancy ''hydro-planes''.
''It is a step up from what I am usually doing and I just hope the gearbox goes well as we have had to fix it very recently, but all these incidents provide new experiences which is exciting.''
- The Southland Times