Return to the Waitara Aquatrack a success for the PSP NZ Jetsprint Champs

Sam Newdick and Shama Putaranui, of PSP Racing, won the MouthFRESH Superboats Class.
Sam Newdick And Shama Putaranui Of PSP Racing Won The Mouthfresh Superboats Class

There was a heady feeling of excitement –  paired with nerves in the pits –  as the PSP NZ Jetsprint Championship’s teams headed out on the Waitara Aquatrack on Saturday.

The reasons were twofold: The drivers and navigators hadn’t hit the water since December 27th and also because this was the first time back racing in Waitara for three years. The Aquatrack has a reputation as being tight, technical and liable to spit drivers out if they take the wrong line. Consequently the teams knew they had to bring their A game.  The weather played ball and promoter Leighton Minnell was wrapt with how the event went. 

“There were 3000 people through the gate and everyone seemed to thoroughly enjoy the close, tight racing in all classes. The rotation was bang on, with no damage to boats and there was plenty of hard racing between the teams,” he says.

MouthFresh Superboats. 

Despite the field being smaller than normal, it didn’t diminish the quality of the show that these supercharged methanol-guzzling superboats put on. From the get-go Arron Hansen and Julie-Anne Shanks, in Wired, showed that they were here to win by posting a 46.566secs time in qualifying round 2.  Once again, they were fastest in qual 3 posting 45.9953secs and the crowd were wondering if there was going to be an upset today.

Sam Newdick and Shama Putaranui, of PSP Racing, and Rob and Ange Coley, in Poison Ivy, were quietly doing their thing, getting comfortable with the rotation and track. Going into the top 6 it was Coley on top, Newdick in second and Hansen in third, closely followed by Reuben Hoeksema in 2JZ and Richard Murray in Meaner Machine.

Unfortunately the hairpin claimed Hansen as a victim, as he turned too soon and bounced across it, pushing him down into 5th and ending his day. There was absolutely nothing between Newdick (44.6893secs) and Coley (44.7793secs) going into the top 3. These drivers’ skills and the set up of their boats is truly world-class and the crowd were enthralled watching how this battle played out.  Murray and Dave Eliason – who was a substitute navigator for the day – came out first and set the time to beat at 49.1633secs. The Coleys went next and didn’t put a foot wrong, laying down a blistering fast 44.6133secs. Newdick had to execute the perfect drive to beat that, and he did, but only just, posting a 44.5643secs. The difference between them was a miniscule .049 of a second!  Coley jumped straight out of his boat to head over to congratulate Newdick and his navigator Shama Putaranui, which truly epitomises how great this sport is – where teams are genuinely happy for each other, after battling hard against each other all day.

Newdick says: “We are pleased to be back at Waitara as it has historically been a good track for PSP and we usually like the tighter, technical tracks. The win was extremely hard fought for us today – we only just managed to scrape in with the win from Rob and Ange.”

Hoeksema and navigator Jacob Wood battled  mechanical gremlins all day, and had to drop their boost from 32 to 26psi on the last run. They were happy enough with 4th as it gives them decent points heading into the final round in Wanaka in April. 

Battle of the Norwegians – Cengiz Al and Nicolay Ramm

Norwegian celebrities actor and dancer Cengiz Al and journalist Nicolay Ramm double drove the Two A Breast boat in the MTW Group B class for the television show The Wildest Sports in the World. Kiwi brothers Deanne and Aaron Riddick stepped in as navigators.
Norwegian celebrities actor and dancer Cengiz Al and journalist Nicolay Ramm double drove the Two A Breast boat in the MTW Group B class for the television show The Wildest Sports in the World. Kiwi brothers Deanne and Aaron Riddick stepped in as navigators.

The Wildest Sports in the World  television show decided that jetsprinting fit its criteria and so its crew jumped on a plane to New Zealand to film an episode featuring Norwegian celebrities actor and dancer Cengiz Al and journalist Nicolay Ramm. They double drove the Two A Breast boat in the MTW Group B class, where they competed against the other competitors but more importantly against each other. Kiwi brothers Deanne and Aaron Riddick stepped in as navigators for the pair, so there was also sibling rivalry in the mix. Ramm was slightly faster than Al in qualifying rounds 3 and 4 but then Al gritted his teeth and laid it down where it mattered – posting a 56.374secs in the top 6 and taking out the battle. Considering that this was their first time driving the Chev V8-powered 550hp jetsprint boat, they did extremely well and entertained the crowd and other competitors. 

Sprintec Boats Group A

The fast, furious and fiercely competitive racing continued in the Sprintec Group A class. It was a Taranaki local, who was on fire coming into the top 6. Matt Hareb and Hayden George of No Limits Racing were pushing hard all day, going fastest in the qualifying round 5 with a 47.9983secs. This was rather exceptional considering Simon and Sarah Gibbon were also on top form, with their Novus Glass boat performing well for the first time this season. They qualified second with a 48.088secs in qual 5. Ollie Silverton and Jess Sit, of PSP racing and Ross Travers and Amanda Kittow, in Radioactive, were also right up there. 

The top 6 was where the day ended for Hareb, as in his own words he “stuffed up the hairpin” after having the second-fastest, first split of the session. Event promoter Minnell thanked him for the week of hard work that Matt Hareb Contracting had put into getting the track ready to race. 

The top 3 was again too close to call. Travers and Kittow threw down a 48.1953secs followed by the Gibbons who gave it everything and posted a 47.7203secs. Silverton, who gets better under pressure each year, came out and drove one of the smoothest runs of the day, taking the win with a 46.5833secs.

He commented: “It was great to be back at Waitara. It’s an awesome little track that makes you work really hard on driving lines and boat set up. We have a dream team behind us and it makes my job super easy. The win was pretty special to me, and it was great to get the PSP double with Sam and Shama in Superboats. Our attention turns to Wanaka where we’ll be gunning for a clean sweep.” 

This was also the first time that the other teams in the class had raced at Waitara. Brett Thompson and David Toms, in TNT, were hitting their straps by qualifying session 4, but unfortunately suffered engine issues in the next round, which ended their day. Dug Twist and Bridie McGuire, of Extreme Racing, who are a favourite team with their fellow racers, had a great time returning to racing after missing the last couple of rounds due to boat issues. After watching for many years, Twist says the best thing he did was buy a boat. He loves the camaraderie of the teams and he thinks it is the best fun getting out driving.

Another Taranaki local Scott Andrew with navigator Blair Smith, pulled his boat out of the shed to race on his home track. They had a fantastic day and were thrilled to end up 5th for the event. 

MTW Group B

Current MTW Group B 2NZ, Kris and Holly Sutherland, of Taranaki, have been plagued with engine troubles this season in their Venom Racing boat but they were pleased to be back racing on their home track. It certainly showed, as they were pushing hard from qualifying round 1. Going into the top 6 they had posted the fastest MTW Group B time of the day up until then of  50.7333secs.
The top 6 and top 3 were hard fought and series leader Sam Gray of Nine Lives Racing, drove beautifully to squeeze Rasmussen out by .208 of a second, to win with a time of 50.7183secs.

Rasmussen says: “It was so good to be back out there, having the motor perform, and after not having any real seat time this season, we were still able to mix it up with the top guys in the class.”

Gray and navigator Mike Allen fixed their fuel pump issue in the early qualifiers and agreed they had a fantastic day’s racing. 

“It was great to have Kris and Holly back racing and fighting as hard as ever. Bryce and Kylie [Baron] saved their best until last and put pressure on us. The track was great, and the rotation flowed nicely,” Gray says.

After suffering a big out at Wanganui the Barons were pleased to get back out in their LJ Hooker Racing boat and fight hard to round off the podium with a well-deserved third.

Karl Brenssell and Hamish Murray, in Off the Hoof, suffered the commentator’s curse in the top 6. Brenssell had been driving well all day and just as commentator Tim Barrot, aka Caveman or Cavie, was singing their praises, they took a spin, flamed out and ended up with a lollipop from the rescue team as a consolation prize!

For the rookies from the South Island – Andrew Craig and Scott Gouman – in their 3rd Time Lucky boat, this was a brand new track for them, and it took them a few rounds to get comfortable with the rotation. They were missing their fellow Mainland team, Currie Racing as driver Richard Currie was unable to race after contracting Covid. However, his navigator Kymberley Kennedy was on hand crewing for 3rd Time Lucky.

Craig Shaw and Paul Collier in the Outer Limits boat didn’t have such a good day, breaking a valve in the first qualifying round of the day. 

MTW LS Class

There were many great things happening in this class and the crowd had no idea who was going to take the win, right through to the top 3. Seasoned jetsprinters, Paddy and Jay Haden, in the BasePro boat, put together an LS package to debut at Waitara.

Link ECU team navigator Leila Burder was unable to be at Waitara, so Jen Nairn jumped in the seat alongside John Verry. This meant she was competing against her husband Matt Nairn, in LS Express, so there was some friendly rivalry and banter between the two teams. 

Right from the get-go, the Hadens showed their class by posting times  less than 0.5secs behind Verry. By the top 6 they had clocked 50.3523secs, which was faster than the Link ECU boat and it was all on! For Burder, her family and the Verrys, watching the livestream from back in Hawkes Bay, it was nail-biting stuff coming into the top 3. Both teams had been driving on-point all day and it would come down to who drove the straightest lines. Nairn drove exceptionally well and posted a 52.073secs, followed by Haden who threw down a 50.4213secs. Verry kept his head and nailed the day’s fastest MTW LS Class time of 49.6373secs. 

Jay Haden says that she and Paddy had the most amazing day and thoroughly enjoyed the fierce, close racing and were wrapt to be pushing Verry as much as they did. Verry agreed that it was a great battle and he thought Paddy and Jay had him, but the team rallied and he managed to drop a second in the final. He also congratulated Nairn and fellow MTW LS Class driver Dylan Edhouse on how well they handled the tricky Waitara track. He is looking forward to the final in Wanaka at Easter. 

Nairn agreed he had a great day of racing, and he was really happy to share the podium with his wife Jen … even if she was a couple of steps higher up the podium!

New Zealand Jetsprint Association President Julia Murray says it was awesome to see the racers settle back into race mode so quickly after the long break.

“And the podium shuffle in some of the classes is always great to see as it makes for exciting racing when it becomes unpredictable!”

“This season has been a nightmare for the track promoters, and full credit to them all for pulling outdoor events together in the crazy weather we have been having. I feel for the Auckland club having to cancel their Meremere event. To be honest, we are now crossing our fingers and hoping we can get our boats over to race the final round in Wanaka on April 8, after all the issues the ferries have been having!

PSP New Zealand Jetsprint Championship’s 2022/2023 Calendar

19 November 2022: Round One – Hastings Jet Sprint Track, Hastings.

4 December 2022: Round Two – Kiwispan Jet Sprint Track, Featherston.

27 December 2022: Round Three – Shelter View, Wanganui.

18 February 2023: Round Four – Sprint Bowl, Meremere.

4 March 2023: Round Five – Waitara Aquatrack.

8 April 2023: Round Six – Novus Glass Aquatrack, Wanaka.


MouthFRESH Superboats competitor Rob Coley hugs New Zealand Jetsprint Association President Julia Murray.

Norwegian celebrities  actor and dancer Cengiz Al and journalist Nicolay Ramm double drove the Two A Breast boat in the MTW Group B class for the television show The Wildest Sports in the World. Kiwi brothers Deanne and Aaron Riddick stepped in as navigators.

Taranaki local Scott Andrew and Blair Smith competed in the Sprintec Boats Group A class.

Sam Newdick and Shama Putaranui, of PSP Racing, won the MouthFRESH Superboats class.


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To find out more information head to the NZ Jetsprint Association website, or contact secretary Pip Thompson: P: 021 0248 1421, E:

If you can’t make it to an event, then check out the Drainage Systems Livestream where you can catch all the action from your phone or computer. Or watch out for the PSP New Zealand Jetsprint Championship when it appears on TV3’s CRC Motorsport.