Round Three of the Rayglass New Zealand Offshore Powerboats takes place on Saturday 12th February off the coast of Maraetai on South Auckland's East Coast. Wind and tide have a huge impact on this area known as the Tamaki Strait as it is a relatively narrow stretch of water, running between the mainland and several islands of the Hauraki Gulf, and often acts as a funnel as the tide pours in toward Auckland.
After two races in the 2011 series, some teams are starting to look like they have a strong chance of dominating the racing in their class. Several of their competitors ran into difficulty with their equipment at Gisborne and with only one week between the races, they may struggle to get back in top shape for this weeks event.
In the Superboats, 'Fairview' driven by Warren Lewis and Chris Hanley leads with two straight wins, and the team will be looking to get their hat trick with a win at Maraetai. 'Schick Hydro' with Scott Lewis and Murray Tuffin in the cockpit looked extremely impressive at Gisborne and seemed intent on leading the field until they lost one of their drives and were unable to remain competitive. They, and the team of Cary Gleeson and Sam Fillmore from 'Doosan', who have had to deal with ballast issues, will be determined to prevent 'Fairview 'from dominating the season any further. 'Profloors' driven by Wayne Valder and Richard Shores will be looking to improve on their third place at Gisborne and are currently even with Schick Hydro on the points table.
'NZ Blokes' driven by Bob Smith and Andrew 'Flea' Koolen will also be looking for their hat trick after winning at both Taupo and Gisborne. This boat dominated the Superboat Lite class in 2010 and looks set on a repeat performance. 'Red Steel' looked competitive but has run into problems which have affected the boats performance. They along with 'Barracuda Kayaks' have a lot of work to do to reel in the leading boat.
The Honda Class provided an exciting battle at Gisborne with three of the boats racing within easy reach of eachother, and at times seemed only inches apart. Mike Urquhart in 'Auckland District Collections' has two wins under his belt, but will face some serious competition this week from James Taylor in 'Total Oil' and Colin Dunn in 'CRD Automotive' who were so close to getting the top spot at the Gisborne race.
A similar battle continues in the Sports Restricted with 'Auckland District Collections 1' and 'Marineworkz' racing for the title. Mikey Knight of 'Auckland District Collections 1' continues to lead the class with two wins. Racing over the last two events has however been close and Jono Hanley of 'Marineworkz' will be keen to get his share of the wins over the season.
In the Super 60 Colin and Glenn Powell of 'Back2Bay6' have exploded into the class with two fast and convincing wins after their move from Hondas last season. The 2010 champions in 'Espresso Engineers' have been hard pressed to get the boat speed they need to close the gap, and will no doubt have been working hard to further refine their setup and regain control of the class.
We hope to see the return of 'Topaz' in the classic class after their dramatic smoke display at Taupo when problems with their turbo prevented them from finishing. 'Konica Minolta' will be looking to cruise to their third victory, while Haaka Le Seur and Gavin McGrath in 'Gull Force 10' may have to wait to show what their Scarab can do in really heavy sea conditions.
Forecasts for the area indicate a fairly brisk nor easterly breeze of 16 knots with gusts up to 25. This combined with an incoming tide could see a short but choppy sea state with a north east swell of .3 metres and 3 second wave interval predicted. This could make the run from C to D interesting as the boats will be running against both wind and tide which should provide plenty of lift and spray.
The race can be viewed best from the foreshore at Maraetai Beach. The race usually takes one hour and starts at 1.00pm.
The NZOPA would like to thank the Maraetai Beach Boating Club, Maraetai Coastguard, Pine Harbour Marina, Energizer, AB Marine, Marine Paramedical Services and MarineWorkz for their support in making the Maraetai Race possible.
They also acknowledge the ongoing support of the series sponsors Rayglass.
More information and updated championship points table can be found on the New Zealand Offshore Powerboat Association website www.nzoffshore.co.nz