Bel Air III claims top prize at NZ Antique & Classic Boat Show

By: Media Release

A boat that set a world speed record in 1968 was back on the water to take the top prize at this year’s NZ Antique & Classic Boat Show, held at Lake Rotoiti in the Nelson Lakes National Park over the weekend.

From 5-6 March 2016, around 120 clinkers, steam launches, classic motorboats, sailing dinghies and their owners enjoyed two days of boating and chatting about boats, with the Jens Hansen trophy for best vessel overall going to Bel Air III, owned by the Knight family of Christchurch.

Peter Knight Snr built the 13ft 8in hydroplane from plywood and white pine in 1965. Powered by a Ford V6 Essex (Mark 4 Zephyr), Bel Air achieved several Australasian records in the late ‘60s and set a world record at Lake Ruataniwha in 1968 with a speed of 177.36mph. Bel Air was retired from racing in 1970 and ‘sat in the garage’ until it was restored in 2015 by Peter Knight Jr.

Boat show organiser Pete Rainey said he is thrilled to announce that the Knights have decided to leave Bel Air III on display in the Classic Boat Museum at St Arnaud.

"To have a world record holding hydroplane as part of the display will give the museum a boost as year round attraction," he said. "The Knights’ generosity is typical of the spirit of sharing of know-how and experience that this boat show is all about. It’s been another fantastic weekend of sunny weather, happy crowds, excellent sailing conditions and great boating."

Judges’ spokesman John Harris said the standard of boats at the 17th annual boat show was making his job difficult.

"It’s becoming very hard to judge when there are three or four boats in each category worthy of winning," he said. "But people are not in it for the prizes, they’re in it for a great day of boating and I’d like to commend them all for their effort and enthusiasm for classic boats."

Other award winning boats

Best New Craft: 30ft replica ‘bootlegger’, Baby Thunder, owned by Bruce Judge of Wellington.

Best Restoration: 18ft 1933 clinker Classy Lady, Wellington, restored in 2015 by Ian Stevens of Christchurch.

Port Nelson House Parts best rowed craft: Four replica classic dories built for the youth of Marlborough, owned and entered by the Picton Maritime Committee and shown by the Picton Girl Guides.

CWF Hamilton trophy for best jet propelled boat: 19ft 1960’s jet boat Taranui owned by Newton King and Nicky Murdoch of Nelson.

Mathieson/Jeffcott trophy for best motor powered craft: In-board clinker Quadrille owned by James Carr of Blenheim.

Best outboard motor boat: 14ft 1961 De Havilland Playboy, Zippa owned by Lance Tighe.

Eventiac best themed display: Model boat display, by Tony Rutledge of Wellington.

Ron Culley trophy for best steamboat: 24ft steamboat Shona, owned by James Dyer of Nelson.

People’s Choice: 14ft 1946 ply runabout Mooski owned by Nelson and Bev North of Blenheim.

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