Reporting Live-ish X2 From The Big 2016 New Zealand Boat Show

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NZ 2016 - 15 (Alan Doak photo)

The iconic Chris-Craft Racing Runabout also leads the way in New Zealand at the 2016 show. (Alan Doak photo)

THE ANTIQUE & CLASSIC BOAT HOBBY IS ALIVE AND WELL IN NEW ZEALAND, and here at Woody Boater we always look forward to the receiving the report from their annual summer boat show at Lake Rotoiti.

On Monday we featured a few live-ish shots from the show courtesy of fellow Woody Boater Philip Andrew – and the response was “show us more” – so not only do we have one full report, we have two full reports from the 17th annual NZ Antique & Classic Boat Show, along with a ton of great photos courtesy of long time contributor Alan Doak.

We decided to combine the two reports in one “blockbuster” story, as each report offers a differing perspective, delivering some great content. You asked for more, and (thanks to our great contributors) we delivered. So grab a fresh coffee, pull up a chair, and let’s get started! – Texx (by the way, you can click on the images today to enlarge them)

NZ 2016 - 4 (Alan Doak photo)

The script on the tail fin tells it all. (Alan Doak photo)

17th Annual NZ Antique and Classic Boat Show
Lake Rotoiti – Nelson Lakes National Park
Jacquetta Bell, Nelson Media Agency – Nelson, NZ

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. (March 5 and 6, 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.

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Bel Air III preparing to launch on Lake Rotoiti. (Alan Doak photo)

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.

NZ 2016 - 7 (Alan Doak photo)

Back on the water doing what it was built to do best. (Alan Doak photo)

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.

NZ 2016 - 6 (Alan Doak photo)

At speed, up on the water. (Alan Doak photo)

“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.”

NZ 2016 - 1 (Alan Doak photo)

Fellow Woody Boater and dedicated Boat Show organiser Pete Rainey flashing the latest swag from the club. (Alan Doak photo)

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 were:

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

NZ 2016 - 12 (Alan Doak photo)

“Baby Thunder” (Alan Doak photo)

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

NZ 2016 - 28 (Alan Doak photo)

(Alan Doak photo)

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

NZ 2016 - 30 (Alan Doak photo)

A celebration of classic boating in New Zealand. (Alan Doak photo)

Jacquetta Bell, Nelson Media Agency

“Two Days of Warm Sunshine and Friendship on the Crystal Clean Waters of Rotoiti.”
Story by Philip Andrew

Hi Matt & Texx,

The 17th NZ Antique and Classic Boat Show was held at St Arnaud on Lake Rotoiti over the weekend. Lake Rotoiti is an alpine lake nestled in the folds of the South Islands St Arnaud Mountain range.

NZ 2016 - 10 (Alan Doak photo)

Lake Rotoiti – an outstanding venue to celebrate classic boating in New Zealand. (Alan Doak photo)

Over one hundred boats came from around New Zealand to enjoy two days of warm sunshine and friendship on the crystal clean waters of Rotoiti.

With my three Century’s now resident at the St Arnaud Classic Boat Museum I am able to enjoy a short 25 minute flight from my home in Wellington to Nelson, then a rental car to the Lake. All up travel time a couple of hours.

NZ 2016 - 9 (Alan Doak photo)

Fellow Woody Boater Philip Andrew with family and friends in “Miss Tahoe” his beautiful Century Arabian. (Alan Doak photo)

This year Aimee and our daughter Isabella came with me to check out Dads ‘happy place‘ which they both enjoyed despite 4 year old Isabella saying, “I won’t come on your boat Dad, I’m a dry land kind of girl”.

Every sort of boat turns up at the show. Row boats, canoes, dingy’s, Sea Scouts cutters, yachts, jet boats, inboards, outboards, home built, factory built, new and old and even model r/c boats.

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An impressive display of R/C boats this year. (Alan Doak photo)

NZ 2016 - 3 (Alan Doak photo)

The R/C boats also had a change to run on the water. (Alan Doak photo)

So many beautiful works of art to look at but two boats stole the show in my view.

The just completed ‘Baby Thunder‘ a New Zealand made replica of a 1920’s Bootlegger built by the super talented Harry Nordberg of Whangamata.

NZ 2016 - 23 (Alan Doak photo)

The recently completed “Baby Thunder” (Alan Doak photo)

Harry built ‘Baby Thunder’ in just over a year for Wellington boat enthusiast Bruce Judge. Bruce had previously been awarded for his Chris-Craft 20-foot Custom runabout ‘Blondie’, this year winning Best New Craft with ‘Baby Thunder’.

The second boat was a real treat for the older people in the crowd. ‘Bel Air’ the World Record breaking Hydroplane owned by the Knight family.

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Philip Andrew photo.

Peter Knight Snr built the 13’8” Bel Air in 1965 from plywood and white pine and powered it with a Ford V6 Essex out of a Mark 4 Zephyr.

Bel Air set a world record in the 2 litre class in 1968 on Lake Ruataniwha with a speed of 177.36 mph.

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Philip Andrew photo.

‘Bel Air’ was retired in 1970 and the Knights went on to race other boats and cars. Recently Peter Knight Jnr pulled her from the shed and restored her back to her as raced condition.

Saturday was the first time she had been in the water since 1970. A fabulous hydro with a wonderful history that perfectly defines the inventiveness and talent of the Knight family.

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A historical day in the life of “Bel Air III” – Philip Andrew photo.

The Knights have generously offered ‘Bel Air’ to The Classic Boat Museum so it will now be on display just a two minute walk from the waters edge.

The other first timer that caught my attention was ‘Mista Dolla’ a 1970’s hydro. This awesome little boat was originally powered by a Lotus 1.7 engine but now runs a 2.0 Ford.

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Mista Dolla hydro – Philip Andrew photo

We enjoyed running in the big boat race on Saturday in our ex Lapkin family Arabian ‘Miss Tahoe’ and on Sunday in our ex F Todd Warner Century Palomino ‘Sparkle Horse.’

NZ 2016 - 14 (Alan Doak photo)

We were happy to see Philip sporting his “Big House Orange” Sons of Varnish WB tee shirt. This is the family thrill-ride part. (Alan Doak photo)

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The family was thrilled.

Both boats ran flawlessly but I always breath a sigh of relief when I get them back on the trailer.

Next year we might just be able to show NZ the Blue Gray Arabian!

Cheers – Philip Andrew

Our friend Alan Doak has been granting us unlimited access to his annual boat show gallery for many years now, and we appreciate his unique style of photography. Alan also participates in the show with his cool Minimax race boat.

Alan noted: “Texx – This year my 14 year old son also drove our Minimax during the show which was great to experience.”

NZ 2016 - 24 (Alan Doak photo)

Alan Doak’s son at the helm of the Minimax. This shot gives you an appreciation for the size of these popular little race boats. – Texx (Alan Doak photo)

Alan went on to say – “Me on the other hand are driving it at speed – I won the under 10hp race. And, more importantly I drove the Minimax to the head-waters of Lake Rotoiti the on the Friday night, alone. It took me 30 minutes to get there, and 1h-6 minutes to get back. Had to refuel in the middle of a very choppy lake, but I made it! Been wanting to do that for about three years so can finally tick it off the list.”

NZ 2016 - 38 (Alan Doak photo)

Alan Doak preparing for the big Under 10HP race in his Minimax.

Enjoy the pics and talk soon.

Cheers – Alan Doak (Skinny)

Thanks Alan. While we are on the subject of boat racing, I just wanted to share a few of Alan’s shots from one of the other slower races last weekend. This race appears to use a “Le Mans Style” of start.

NZ 2016 - 33 (Alan Doak photo)

The race assitants hold the race boats in place prior to the start…

NZ 2016 - 34 (Alan Doak photo)

The race drivers sprint towards the awaiting race boats…

NZ 2016 - 35 (Alan Doak photo)

The start of the race is very intense as you can see…

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The pilots fire-up their trusty outboards…

NZ 2016 - 37 (Alan Doak photo)

And the race boats race away from the shore in a blaze of speed…

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Always carry a few bailing buckets on board your classic boat just in case… (Alan Doak photo)

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I think these guys need a bigger boat…

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A family enjoying their day on the water. (I think the girls noticed the camera lens) – Alan Doak photo

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Always great to see “Summertime” – a beautiful wooden boat we featured on Woody Boater a few years ago.

And we close out our story today with a few great action shots from the cockpit of “Baby Thunder” courtesy of Alan Doak.

NZ 2016 - 39 (Alan Doak photo)

NZ 2016 - 40 (Alan Doak photo)

At 3,600 RPM it’s safe to say they are enjoying the ride in “Baby Thunder” here.

Special thanks to everyone who contributed to this story today, we truly appreciate the effort. A great team-effort by Jacquetta Bell, Philip Andrew & Alan Doak. Also thanks to organizer Pete Rainey for his tireless work.


12 replies
  1. Al Benton
    Al Benton says:

    Thanks Much for this wonderful report from New Zeland. The boats and the setting were beautiful, the words were refreshing.
    Thanks Gang!!!

    • Wilson
      Wilson says:


      Thought you were headed to the River Cruise and Tavares today…How’d you have time to read Woody Boater before hitting the road ?…Hope you saw my weather report yesterday…Weather looks good for St. Johns River cruise.

  2. Dennis Mykols
    Dennis Mykols says:

    I love the picture of the little kneel down hydro. It brought back a ton of memories because it was my first boat, at age 11 or so. I paid $8.00 for it, a $1.00 per foot! We had a 10 hp Scott Atwater on her. I learned how to cross a wake real fast in that boat. If you tried to take one head on, half of the wave went into your face!

    • Alan Doak
      Alan Doak says:

      Hi Dennis

      I built that little Minimax for the cost of three sheets of ply (it only needed two but I mucked up one of my saw cuts) and a bit of pine. Most of the expense went into the acrylic. Probably cost around NZ$500 (about US$350), plus the cost of the outboard. If I’m honest the 5hp is a little underpowered. It takes a bit to get me (80kgs) up on the plane, but once there it’s as fun as anything.

      And like you, if you hit a wave at speed it goes straight in your face and ends up half filling the cockpit. One day I’ll add a little wooden windscreen to try to stem that flow!

      Glad it brought you some happy memories. And thanks for sharing the receipt!

      Alan Doak

  3. G Gordon Gray
    G Gordon Gray says:

    The pictures are GREAT to see, but, what about the sounds? A good throaty ROAR would be nice, for us to hear, for those in the Northern Climes.

  4. Chad
    Chad says:

    Thanks Philip and Alan! Beautiful boats and scenery.

    I shall eat a kiwi and dream of boating in New Zealand.

  5. Randy
    Randy says:

    Wow, the Minimax lives on!!!!!!! As a kid in the late ’50’s my dad helped me build one. It was my 3rd boat, and I think I had a 15 hp engine on I, loving every minute with it.

    Is the statement “Bel Air set a world record in the 2 litre class in 1968 on Lake Ruataniwha with a speed of 177.36 mph” correct???? This is a bit of a stretch for a 150 cu. in. hydro. Should it have been kph instead — which is still swift for this small limited.

    Love those old limiteds!!!!!!!!!

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