Cook Strait speed record falls
Warren Lewis and Chris Hanley have broken the long-standing Cook Strait crossing record in their V8 offshore superboat, despite challenging conditions on the notorious body of water.
Lewis and Hanley took out the BP Straits Trophy by setting a new time of 1 hour, 33 minutes and 19 seconds for the double straight crossing on the superboat Fairview Windows and Doors, a 35ft Skater catamaran powered by a pair of 525 horsepower V8 engines.
The Fairview team waited for two months for the ideal weather window for the record attempt, which finally appeared yesterday. Regular Fairview driver Andrew "Flea" Coolen was unable to make the crossing through work commitments, so the experienced Chris Hanley was called in at the last minute.
While the crew's plan was to lower the record to under 1h 10m, the rapidly changing conditions in Cook Strait put paid to that.
"Once we got out past the Wellington Head's we struck a massive rip, and our boat speed was down to just 40mph... not an ideal start, and even Chris expressed his concerns at that time about turning back around," said Lewis afterwards.
"We couldn't get on top of the waves, with the conditions some of the worst I've been in. But we made the decision to look for better water further out, and use this as a shakedown run, thinking we weren't going to break the record first time out".
But Fairview found its legs in the Marlborough Sounds on the way to Picton, hitting speeds of up to 132 mph.
The last known official record was set by monohull Aurora in 1984, in a time of 1h 43m 2s. Former New Zealand offshore champion Graeme Horne made an attempt on the Cook Strait mark in the late 1980s - setting a time of 1h 37m - but there is confusion over whether that record was ever ratified.
The Fairview Windows and Doors Offshore Superboat is already New Zealand's fastest offshore powerboat, recording 136mph (219kph) on Lake Karapiro, and holds the current record for the Auckland Harbour Bridge to Great Barrier Island return run.