When the Auckland PBRO held this country’s first offshore power boat races of 40 and 100 miles in 1964, there were no specialized offshore race boats in existence. CommentsWhen the Auckland PBRO held this country’s first offshore power boat races of 40 and 100 miles in 1964, there were no specialized offshore race boats in existence.
NB: Editor Barry Thompson had crewed in the first legs of the marathon in Paul Jones Bourbon and gave up his seat for the last leg to Auckland to Ho Gray, who had had a miserable run in his boat and looked like sitting out the last leg to Auckland.
The 1984 deed of the BP Straits Cup decreed that the challenger must leave Wellington carrying a letter from the president of the Wellington Power Boat Club, and must, with no air support, cross to Picton (slowing to 5mph in the Picton Harbour), stopping at the wharf where the letter was to be handed to the mayor of Picton. In 2012 Warren Lewis and Chris Hanley claimed the BP Straits Trophy in their twin MerCruiserpowered 10.7m Skater cat ‘Fairview’ with a time of one hour, 33 minutes and 19 seconds. Green later became involved in other projects, winning, with Graeme Sutherland, the 1981 World UIM Class 2 Championship in the triple-Mercury outboard-powered Scarab ‘Continental Airlines’.
When McGrath stripped Kevin Green’s old engine, the block, crank, rods, pistons and cylinder heads were all so badly cracked everything except the injection unit was dumped. Things looked grim for the famous old boat. The bare hull and rusty trailer were sold to a Hamilton buyer. Forty years old this year, ‘Topaz’ can count some of the legends of powerboat racing amongst her present and former owners and drivers. She still turns heads with her classic lines, and these days races in selected NZ offshore races, but is most frequently heard and seen disturbing the late afternoon peace on Lake Rotorua.
Aeronaut (3092) Classic: Power Boat - Model Boat & Fittings is a semi scale model power boat. The kit includes all the wooden parts required to build the model, propeller shaft, propeller, rudder, glue and comprehensive building instructions in various languages.
Missed Peter’s radio show broadcasting from the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Biloxi? Peter Greenberg: Tell me what’s different about Mardi Gras here than you’d find in New Orleans? However, as the circuit expanded throughout the North and South Islands in the late 60s and early 70s, the first race boats began to appear: Ivan Boyce used a 7L Chev and a Casale V-drive in the Rex Henry-designed ‘Tara Too’. Mackay had served his apprenticeship at Bailey’s in Auckland before starting his own business building everything from rowing skiffs, surf boats and yachts to launches.
Spencer showed Jim a picture of a period USA Cigarette offshore racing boat and asked him if he could build something similar. There were differences in the strakes, and new technology allowed ‘Topaz’ to be lighter than ‘Old Crow’. The letter was to be signed by the Mayor to verify that the challenger abided by the speed limit within Picton Harbour, and the arrival time was to be noted. However, ‘Fairview’ was given permission to turn at full speed in Picton Harbour before returning, without stopping, to Wellington Harbour. Later there was the twin MerCruiser inboard-powered Apache hull ‘Warlord’, which he still owns in the USA today.


The last time he raced it in the original V-drive form was in the late 80s Auckland to Tutukaka (and return) marathon.
McGrath had grown tired of the impractical aspects of the V-drive and experimented first with a Karma surface drive (which proved excellent in a straight line, but diabolical when trying to turn), then with a sterndrive. Mike Cameron purchased ‘Aurora’ to aquire the engine and leg for his copy of the Manville Brother’s ‘Musketeer’ that he successfully raced in the classic class of the offshore series. Her deck was removed with the intention of converting the hull to a center- console fishing boat, with a Detroit diesel engine. Pearse’s credentials include a number of meticulously restored wooden launches still used in the Rotorua Lakes district. Naturally, and with the blessing of Jim Mackay, the hull was re-christened ‘Topaz’, with the original signwriting replicated by Bear’s Signs in Gisborne. The hull floor and sides are die-cut from thin plywood, and all the other model components are pre-cut or die-cut. Peter recently sat down with the locals in Biloxi, Mississippi, to learn about the events that define this Gulf Coast city, from Mardi Gras traditions to cruising classic cars to power boat racing. Mobile and New Orleans have outstanding Mardi Gras and most people think about New Orleans, but Biloxi has a tremendous event.
The red carpet is always out here for folks on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and for Mardi Gras it’s not an exception. Bill Stevenson and John Meredith raced their triple Mercury outboard-powered ‘Mystic Miss’ and ‘Formula’ boats. His earliest success came at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics when Earle Wells and Helmer Pedersen won a gold medal for New Zealand in the Flying Dutchman sailing dinghy class in a cold-moulded wood veneer boat built by Mackay. The result was the first Mackay 8.23m ‘Old Crow’ and the start of the Mackay offshore racing dynasty.
He also ran in Topaz in a 6-hour marathon and spent a full lap of Auckland harbour sitting in the engine bay, holding a spark plug lead on, while being continuously zapped by the Joe Hunt Magneto.
After two attempts he and his crew of Des Deacon and Ned Rowe took the BP Straits Trophy with a time of one hour, 43 minutes and two seconds at an average speed of 69.6 miles per hour. Green, who had initially sent a congratulatory email to the ‘Fairview’ crew, later became aware of the discrepancies between the challenges, and was most upset. The only tools required are a pair of scissors, a drill, screwdriver, clothes pegs, pins and adhesive tape.
We are always interested in trades so please fill out our trade form and we will be happy to take a look. People can come here for the weekend and stay from Mardi Gras to Fat Tuesday and just have a great time.
In 1975, with new race number 156, and with engine builder Jim Carlisle, the team dominated and won the championship.


Green is adamant that either the rules of the historic BP Straits Cup should be adhered to, or a completely new challenge should begin, leaving the original record standing.
McGrath filled the ballast tank up and put his foot down, outpacing the cats in the rough water.
McGrath was disappointed with the stern leg, noting that the V-drive had lifted the bow better. With his daughter Sharon he rebuilt it in 2010, and it is now immaculate with its twin turbo-charged big block Chevrolet. Reeves used his considerable knowledge to change a few details; a shorter propellor strut in a more forward position, power steering, a mid-mounted turning fin, and trim-tabs were fitted, since unlike Jim Mackay, Reeves likes them. Mackay is delighted with the quality of the ‘Topaz’ restoration, describing her as magnificent, and ‘better than new’.
It’s easy to get around, the crowds are manageable, the parade comes right by the Beau Rivage—what more could you ask? Mackay crewed for Black in 1974, but there was a difference of opinion over the need for trim tabs.
Jim Mackay became the only New Zealander to design, build and race a boat to a championship win. Unfortunately an ill-placed finish line at Kaipara Harbour sent ‘Aurora’ into the wharf at speed, necessitating a rebuild. Reeves is possibly the longest continually involved competitor in the sport of powerboat racing in New Zealand and all his boats have had V-drives. Mackay believed his hulls did not need them, and built a new boat, ‘Topaz’ to prove his point. Having made his point, Mackay in 1976 sold ‘Topaz’, along with the parts to build a 8.1L Chev engine, to Roger Wood. Wood campaigned the boat as ‘Paul Jones Bourbon’ and later as ‘Stars and Stripes’, on the North and South Island circuits until the early 1980s, after which he joined the catamaran revolution. A highlight of Wood’s ownership was the 1977 three-day Citizen Watch marathon from Tutukaka to Auckland. On the last leg from Stanmore Bay to Takapuna Beach, the boat suddenly and spectaculary barrel-rolled, throwing two of the three crew members into the water.



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