Caughey’s ring-in boat keeps championship hopes alive


Peter Caughey and Karen Marshall en route for the fastest time of the day at Wanganui’s Shelterview track at round one (photos, Ian Thornton)

Defending New Zealand SuperBoat champion Peter Caughey will keep his 2015 championship hopes alive thanks to the generosity of another racer, after his new craft’s mighty 570 engine broke a crankshaft at round one, in Wanganui.

“At times of adversity people step up to the plate, and this time it’s Brent White, of Auckland, who was the first to call. He has a complete Sprintec SuperBoat, so it’s one I built. It’s the one we raced in 2012, and though it’s into its eighth season the 600-cube [9.8-litre] big-block Chev motor has the latest fuel injection and a new dry sump set-up, plus a new oil pump, and its power output is close to that of my new motor, though it weighs 40kg more.”

Caughey’s ENZED team has spent the past five days race-prepping the boat, “which luckily Brent isn’t racing this season. We’ve given the underside a birthday – Brent won’t recognize it when he gets it back, it’s had a serious update – and we’d reconditioned the jet unit a year ago, so it should be pretty good.”

Why not just fix the broken motor? “We’re still investigating the cause of the broken crank, it’s unusual for equipment of this quality, and we need to find the cause to avoid it happening again. After all, the damage could have been worse, but the repair bill is still $25-$30,000…”

The understudy isn’t quite as good, “And we were offered shared drives by front-runners like Leighton Minnell and Graeme Hill, but we didn’t want to risk their results. With this boat we should be able to stay at the pointy end of the field, and we’re very grateful for Brent’s generosity, which will keep our championship hopes alive. It’s fantastic the support you get from fellow competitors in jetsprinting.”

The boat was signwritten with Caughey’s ENZED, Total and Trojan sponsors’ livery yesterday, it’s testing on today, and goes straight on the trailer to Picton tonight, ready for a dawn ferry on Thursday.

“We couldn’t miss the ENZED Stadium Jetsprints at ASB Baypark,” Caughey says. “Phonsy Mullan is bringing his SuperBoat from Melbourne and he should be on the pace, with 400hp more than our motor. But the BayPark venue is tight and that could suit us, and should produce exciting racing.”

Caughey says, “Graeme Hill, Leighton Minnell, Rob Coley and last-round winner Pat Dillon are all serious threats to our securing valuable championship points on Saturday night. A large number of overseas jetsprint guests are expected at both events this weekend, including the track owner from the final rounds in the worlds – Baypark is hoping to snare a world championship event in 2016 — so it’s important to put on a good showing.”

And as Caughey says, this is a fantastic venue. “Last year was a huge success, and this year not only have they dug a track from the rugby pitch, they’ve added a designated concrete launch ramp, which will be buried under the rugby pitch until next year.”

He says, “Eric Hoeksema and Paul Gaston have done an awesome job of designing a new track with more space and, we hope, better water conditions, so we expect the event to run more smoothly. There was action aplenty last year, and it’s building up to be a special weekend’s racing on both days, with Saturday night being round two of the New Zealand championships and Sunday, the ENZED Baypark Stadium Cup.”

Caughey – with nine New Zealand, and seven World Championship titles under his belt – has seen plenty of tracks in his time, but, “Baypark is the jewel in the crown of our sport, it’s a fair indication of the potential and likely future for our sport, for major events. Having 16,000 people shoulder-to-shoulder in a stadium screaming for a 1000hp methanol-fuelled sprintboat is special, it feels like you’ve just driven into the coliseum – and this year promises to be even bigger and better than last year.”

New Zealand Jetsprint Championship season

24/25 January 2015 Baypark – TICKEST FROM EVENTFINDA.CO.NZ
15 February Auckland Rd3
8 March Hastings Rd4
4 April Wanaka Rd5
5 April Wanaka, South Island Champs
25 April Featherston/Wairarapa, Rd 6

Provisional results Suzuki Grand Vitara SuperBoat class, Round One, top 10

1 Pat Dillon 30pts
2 Peter Huijs 29
3 Leighton Minnell 28
4 Nick Berryman 26
5 Peter Caughey 25
6 Dave Hopkins 23
7 Rob Coley 22
8 Glen Head 21
9 David Simmons 19
10 Graeme Hill 18