Christchurch Earthquake reaches Superboat World Champs


Peter Caughey & Karen Marshall enroute to the 2014 NZ Championship title

Caughey says ‘it’s sorted’

The Christchurch Earthquake has had an unexpected after-effect on the World Jetsprint Championship, as New Zealand champion Peter Caughey will not be racing with his regular navigator, Karen Marshall.

Ms Marshall, a clinical nurse manager at Christchurch’s Burwood Spinal Unit, has helped take Caughey’s ENZED SuperBoat team to two of his six World and five of his nine New Zealand Championships.

But her home was one of many badly damaged by the earthquakes, and after three years of waiting, it is being rebuilt, right when the worlds are on.

Fortunately Caughey has found a New Zealand navigator with the experience to step in, and he’s philosophical. “Between EQC and Karen’s increasingly important position at Burwood, it just wasn’t going to be easy to attend the World Championship – as there is a two-week gap between the championship events.”

Caughey says the successful pairing even contemplated flying Karen out and back twice, but clearly that would put a lot of additional strain on her, and so the decision was made to approach Shama Putaranui, from Mt Somers (near Methven), who navigated for Australia Group A champion Brooke Dixon in a Sprintec boat last season.

Ms Putaranui works at the Heartland bank, and in her spare time does small-bore rifle shooting, and is secretary of the local rugby club. But she’s found three weeks in her busy schedule to help Caughey wave the silver fern flag at the world champs.

Caughey says, ““Its not easy finding a good navigator with the right attitude and the ability to think and respond quickly while operating in what can be a fearful environment for those unfamiliar with it. And also important to our light-weight SuperBoat Sprintec package is Shama’s petite frame – like Karen, she’d struggle to tip the scales at 50kg, and given they are of similar build, she should be able to step into Karen’s seat for this vital two weeks, leaving Karen to concentrate on getting her house finished before returning to the navigator seat for the New Zealand championship that opens on December 27.

Caughey says he’s absolutely rapt his other key team members have been able to commit to his 2014 Worlds campaign, with Ross Baynes, David McCallum, Karyn Caughey and Robbie McNabb currently packing their bags, while Jacqui Madelin stays in New Zealand to take care of Caughey’s news and publicity updates on home ground, liaising between radical time differentials.

Caughey says, “I’ve got a great team of die-hards who are without doubt the most experienced and capable team in the sport – and that’s due to each of them bringing a set of strong and unique skills to the team. It’s always a privilege to race with these guys – truly an honour!”

“I’ve been under the gun for the past few months, what with organising sponsorship, air travel, accommodation, storage etc, but the team’s offered a helping hand wherever they could. If this championship could be won on preparation and dedication, we should be very confident – but preparation is only one aspect to this game.”

At least one thing is done and dusted – the Sprintec boat is already in the US. “The team at GVi Logistics has done a thorough job of arranging and managing shipping, customs, carnet docs etc. for the boat to get from Christchurch to round one in Missouri, and it’s due to arrive there this week. It certainly takes some of the stress off my shoulders to have professionals take care of this aspect.”

World Jetsprint Chamionship dates:
Round one – August 16-17, Bricks Off Road Park, Poplar Bluff, Missouri, USA
Round two – August 30-31, Global Jetsprint Track, Lebanon, Oregon, USA