A spectacular crash handed Fairview's Warren Lewis and Andrew Koolen victory in the fifth round of the New Zealand Offshore Powerboats series at Whitianga on Saturday.
Fairview's fourth win in five races leaves Lewis and Koolen on track to clinch their second consecutive national title with just three rounds remaining.
Fujitsu Better Heat's Tony Coleman and Chris Hanley were running hot in second place and pushing Fairview hard on Saturday but lost touch after they launched off a wave and nosedived into the one behind it. The bows of Fujitsu dug into the water and the vessel was momentarily submerged all the way back to the cockpit. Once the boat surfaced the cockpit floor was six inches underwater. The excess of water in boat caused it to sit much lower in the ocean, resulting in the engines shutting down.
Coleman and Hanley were able to pump it out and resume racing and still hold their second place. Whitianga's Wayne and Grant Valder, racing Profloors, finished third.
Meanwhile, Red Steel was once again untouchable, claiming a fifth-straight win in Superboat Lite Class despite a conservative race strategy from Tony Carson and Brooke Faulknor in the boat-breaking conditions.
In rough conditions it is important to preserve the boat, as damage at this point of the season could see them being forced to retire from the competition, seeing all of their hard work go to waste.
The strong onshore breeze and large swells pushed all crews to the limit with boats performing spectacular leaps off waves, standing almost vertically in mid air, before crashing back down onto the water as they charged out to sea. The skills of the crews were put under the microscope as they made their way through the waves as a poorly executed launch from a swell could result in a nosedive, potentially breaking or flooding boats.
Conditions claimed several boats in the second-tier 60 mile Sports 60 restricted class.
Auckland District Collections (Mike Knight) took control of the race and managed to hold out competition leaders Konica Minolta (Mikey Smith) and Total Oil (James Taylor) to claim victory.
Earlier, Jono and Ashley Hanley (Energizer) got off to a strong start and quickly amassed a good lead over the field. But, after a series of stops, they finally succumbed to engine problems and were towed ashore.
Back2 Bay6's Glen and Chris Powell pulled out due to slamming conditions, aggravating a back injury sustained in Napier in the previous round.
Wellington hosts round six on April 14 before the championship rounds out in Auckland on April 28 and Tauranga on May 12.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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