International bathtub racer

Whitianga bathtub racer John Booker’s tunnel hull cat that’s taken him to the top of New Zealand’s bathtub racing scene will be left behind when he takes on the competition in Canada.

The prize for winning the inaugural Bay of Islands Bathtub Racing Classic on May 24 was a trip to watch the World Classic Bathtub race, but moves are afoot to try and organise a bathtub for him to race in.

John Booker winning the national trophy and travel prize.

John’s first prize win is a trip to Nanaimo in Vancouver Sound for the World Classic Bathtub Race.

The Bay of Islands race is intended to be an annual event, with plans to have a local tub built in Nanaimo for future New Zealand winners.

Conditions and style of racing are different in Canada – and John says should he get a race, he’ll be happy to just finish.

There are about 200 entrants in the Nanaimo race. Up until now, the biggest field John’s raced in is the 15-strong field in the Labour weekend racing at Whitianga.

“I have been told out of the 200 entrants only about 25 per cent end the race,” says John.

“I think they have quite a few mechanical and hull failures and things like that and just the sea conditions they run in.

“I think you have to pace yourself pretty well over there. I think we are going to run standard class outboards, standard props.”

He’s going to get to Canada a couple days early to get the hang of their boats, and to get it tuned up and running how he likes it.

“Just changing the outboard height makes a difference to how it holds on in rough water or how much boat speed you get out of it,” says John.

Bathtub racing rules requires the bath to be built into the boat.

“Some guys build flat-bottomed boats, some build deep vees and put the bath on its side and one side of the keel. Myself, I build little tunnel hull cats and the bath is in the roof of the tunnel,” says John.

“I haven’t used any composite. My boats are real simple; just made out of ply resined over, with a little bit of glass reinforcing, but very little; just keeping it real simple, very light.

“Some of the boys have built moulds and are laying up glass boats in moulds. When we go over to Canada they run in the ocean, so it’s pretty unprotected. They generally run deep vee boats of relatively similar design.”

The New Zealand contingent going to Nanaimo this year includes second place winner Te Puke bathtub racer George Oates, the BOI race events manager Noel Brown, and their wives.


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