Racer claims local advantage


Oamaru boat enthusiast Nigel Smethurst is confident his team has the goods to win this weekend’s round of the New Zealand Boat Marathon Commission series, starting at Oamaru Harbour tomorrow.
The sixth of eight rounds, hosted by the North Otago Yacht and Power Boat Club, is the only race to be held at sea, presenting different challenges from traditional lake racing.
Smethurst, who along with co-driver Greg Beel competes in class C of the series, said his 19-foot sonic, 200 horsepower Integrated Mechanics boat, which has a top speed of about 117kmh, was more suited to ocean racing than other boats on the circuit.
“The sea presents more challenges as far as adverse weather conditions, so it gives us more of a challenge. The sea has obviously more breaks than the lake, so they tend to behave a little different.”
He also felt he had an advantage over the competition, given he was racing in his home town.
“This is our home round so we’re pretty excited about it. It’s the pinnacle for us, I guess, and our boat is more suited to this round.”
Smethurst, in his first season as a driver after two seasons in the co-driver’s seat, said competition was close in the C class, which meant he had to be at the top of his game each race.
“The C class is probably the most hotly contested this season … it’s probably the largest class for the entire series this year, which has been good.”
He holds a 500-point lead over his nearest rival in the overall standings for the Howat Trophy, after winning the Lake Dunstan, Lake Benmore and Lake Aviemore marathons.
He also finished second at the Roxburgh Gorge marathon.
If Smethurst, whose major sponsor is LJ Hooker, crosses the line first in Oamaru, it will be his third consecutive win heading into the final two rounds of competition.
Classes A and B are raced over 100km, C and D over 80km, and E and F over 60km.
Racing will get under way at 10.30am and finish about noon.
A couple of boats will be on display for the public to view at Scotts Brewing Co today.
The final two rounds of competition will be staged at Lake Waihola and the Oreti Estuary next month.Asics shoesAir Jordan