The jetsprints are returning to ASB Baypark stadium next weekend, this time for two days during anniversary weekend – and with an international flavour.
Last year’s world-first jetsprints in the stadium drew a crowd of more than 15,000 people.
Next Saturday will be Round 2 of The PSP NZ Jetsprint Championship Series – which is only for Kiwi races, with international teams not eligible unless they compete in New Zealand for the whole round.
But Sunday is heralding the inaugural ENZED International Stadium Jetsprint Cup, with $20,000 in prize money – and this is open to the visiting overseas competitors.
“Pretty much anybody whose anybody in the sport is coming,” says event director Pip Minnell. “They saw it last year. And it is still the only stadium jetsprint racing event in the world.
“We’ve got a lot of the overseas competitors are coming as spectators at the event as well.
“This is ahead of next year’s world 2016 world championships. I think they’re also coming to check out the preferred venue for the world champs, which New Zealand is hosting.”
Jetsprints involves high-powered jet boats with crews of two, racing individually against the clock through a twisting series of narrow channels in less than one metre of water, providing fast-paced action for spectators.
With the track marked out last weekend and digging beginning this week, track changes this year make it longer and some of the curves faster while remaining a narrow and tight challenge for drivers.
Also new this year is a concrete boat-launching ramp. ASB Baypark Stadium is the only stadium to host jetsprints so far, and it’ll be the only stadium to boast a permanent concrete boat-launching ramp behind the try line.
The boat ramp will be buried after the event and excavated again for the 2016 event.
The stadium track this year is a lot bigger than last year, taking up more of the grassed area with the start-finish pool and launch ramp bordering the stock car track at the eastern end.
The track is 15 metres closer to the fence at the western end and half the former eight metre distance from the crowd along the front and back ‘straights’.
“The boats will be going faster,” says Jetsprint BOP spokesman Matt Minnell.
After about 300 truckloads of stadium soil is being removed, and the concrete ramps sets, and narrow, shallow ditch will be filled with about 2000m3 of water.