Booze ban surprise for hydroplane race fans

ELTON SMALLMAN
Last updated 05:00 26/02/2014

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Waipa Council has flexed its muscle and banned booze from a hydroplane club event at Lake Karapiro after a rowdy night last time.

Councillors voted unanimously to implement a total liquor ban for the duration of the next two-day event - to be held in March - after police were called to deal with up to 20 unruly hydroplane enthusiasts earlier in February.

But Acceleration on the Water event manager and hydroplane club secretary Denise Moughan said the rowdy behaviour had nothing to do with them and she wasn't to blame because she wasn't there.

A four-hour liquor ban was in force on the night and Western Waikato South senior sergeant Dave Simes sent a letter requesting a review to council chief executive Garry Dyet.

The letter was tabled at the full council meeting yesterday where Mr Simes said a police car attended the Karapiro campgrounds and found a group of 15 to 20 people in breach of the ban.

They were there for the New Zealand grand prix hydroplane drivers club event, held at the Mighty River Domain between January 31 and February 2. They also attended a function at the Don Rowlands Centre on the Saturday night.

Don Rowlands staff were worried at the level of intoxication and closed the bar early. A group of people moved to the campgrounds where they smashed bottles and behaved in an "unruly manner".

Police reinforcements were called to the campgrounds and seven officers aided three staff members but the hydroplane fans continued to be disruptive. Seven infringement notices were handed out on the night but Mr Simes said people in the group were "unco-operative" and "failed to listen to reason or explanation from police or the site manager".

Mr Simes recommended council implement an "all encompassing 24/7 liquor ban." It was not the first incident involving the hydroplane club and the council agenda showed that at a previous event, hydroplane fans were told by the event manager that drinking after 9pm in the campgrounds was accepted.

Mr Dyet said organisers had plenty of time to fix the problem and did nothing.

"Nothing has been done about it so council should send a clear message to the organisers," he said.

Ms Moughan, the event manager, said they didn't have an issue with the liquor ban and she hoped other events would come under the same scrutiny.

"At the end of he day it's a safety thing and we don't have an issue with it."

She said they had "nothing to do with the camping ground" and hydroplane club members attended a wedding at the Don Rowlands centre that "had nothing to do with the event". "I'm not responsible for the camping ground," she said.

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elton.smallman@waikatotimes.co.nz

- Waikato Times

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