Peter Caughey is elated by his round one win in the SuperBoat class at the World Jetsprint Championship which wrapped up today in Missouri, USA.
After two days spent unloading his ParkerStore boat, checking and tuning it with his jetlagged team, they readied to race in 40-degree temperatures and up to 80 per cent humidity, but came home with the result.
“We were initially concerned about the size of the track,” Caughey says down the phone line from Missouri, “but it has some good technical corners and a couple of long straights, one ending in a tricky, tight corner so you’re going in at pretty much full speed, then a quick 20-degree followed by a 110-degree turn, and only the best of the boats handle that well.”
What he’s not mentioned is his Sprintec craft reaches close to 140kph down that straight, it has no brakes – and the corner had sent a number of boats back to the garage for the day. “In the end we kept fine-tuning our line, and the last three runs we were getting that pretty much as good and as safely as you could expect to – I’d compare the speed and flow of it to Auckland’s Meremere, get it wrong and it can bite you.”
Caughey says that on paper, the track looked like it might favour the forced induction motors, the supercharged and turbocharged V8s. “Leighton Minnell, Phonsy Mullan and Graeme Hill could have been a big threat on this track, they can unleash a bit more of that power, so to come away with a win was really encouraging.”
The win was down to a lot of hard work from Caughey’s team. “We were stripping down the jet unit, trying different impeller and trim combinations and fuel mixtures, we’d been watching the barometric pressure and weather systems in this area for more than two months, and in all that time this is the worst air pressure this place has been at, for the last three days. Those changes in pressure affect our motor hugely, while the turbo motors make their own air pressure, but my Sprintec boat’s sweet handling can offset that.”
And as Caughey says, “Fortunately for the ParkerStore team there were four, or even five money corners – five that caught people out, with big crashes or where drivers lost a lot of time, and boats that handled those well came out on top. Our Sprintec boats did well there throughout the event.”
In the end the Americans and Canadians didn’t make it through to the top five, with Peter topping the podium after a 43.03-second time, followed by Greg Mercier on 45.321, and Australian Phonsy Mullan, slowed with a motor problem, in third with a 49.58-second time, a disappointment given his fastest time today was a 43.9.
Kiwis Graeme Hill and Daryll Hutton came fourth and fifth.
“It was a great result for ParkerStore, a new sponsor for us,” Peter says. “And especially since this was the first time I’d raced with this navigator.”
“Shama Putaranui did a great job, an exceptional job considering it was her first time navigating at this level, dealing with the pressure. She made one mistake on our first practice run, we made the same error and both realized it simultaneously. She really put the effort in before every run. It can be difficult changing the team dynamic, and our usual navigator couldn’t make it. But after today I realize how lucky I am – it looks as if we have the two best navigators in New Zealand – and possibly the world – working with us.”
The ParkerStore team will take a short break before driving to Lebanon, Oregon, and preparing for the second and final round of the World SuperBoat championship, taking place in two weeks time.
- 1 Peter Caughey/Shama Putaranui (NZ)
- 2 Greg Mercier/Dorinda Mercier (NZ)
- 3 Phonsy Mullan/Devon Mason (Australia)
- 4 Graeme Hill (New Zealand)
- 5 Daryll Hutton/Michael Perry (NZ)