By Ian Hyndman – Wanganui Chronicle
The major hydroplane trophies are doing the rounds in Waverley as the squeeze goes on at top of the New Zealand leaderboard this season
At round two of the three-meeting Hydro Thunder series on Lake Karipiro over the weekend, David Alexander (GP777 Steeler) wrested back New Zealand’s highest honour, the Masport Cup, back off Waverley cousin Jack Lupton (Penrite Repco GP57).
Lupton had held the trophy for the past three years running, but human error cost him a fourth win after breaking down when leading race two for the Masport Cup on Sunday.
The holder gets to chose which meeting to defend the title and Lupton elected for Lake Karipiro rather than round one on Lake Taupo a fortnight ago, or Blue Lakes in Rotorua on March 3-4.
While winning race one at the weekend, Lupton experienced a ‘few mechanical issues”, so changed motors before race two. Despite a great start and a healthy lead at the start of race two, Lupton had failed to fully tighten down his fuel system and stalled mid-race.
Alexander, who has been Mr Consistency this series, powered to the lead and post a win and a second in the two allocated Masport Cup events. The victory gave Alexander his fifth Masport Cup, although the last time was 2010.
Lupton, however, gained some consolation winning both A E Baker Trophy races. The A E Baker is an Australasian trophy, but no Australians crossed the Tasman to compete this year.
Alexander was second in the A E Baker event with fellow Waverley racer Chris Picard finishing an excellent third in Warwick Lupton’s original Annihilator GP24 (Tiger).
Warwick Lupton’s weekend ended when he broke a prop blade and damaged his hull in GP.007 Annihilator, while son Ken Lupton (GP009 Lucas Oils) was forced out with electrical problems similar to those dogging many of the competitors this season.
Alexander has also taken the lead in the three-meeting Hydro Thunder series from Ken Lupton with one round to go in Rotorua.
Alexander has amassed 2675 points from the first two rounds, with brothers Jack and Ken now tied on 2300pts
“It was satisfying to win back the Masport Cup I last won about eight years ago. It is the fifth time I’ve had it, though, Alexander said.
“I’ve been really happy with the way my boat’s been going,” Alexander said.
“I raced the new Bert Henderson Canadian engine at Taupo and had a few niggling problems, so changed back to my eight-year-old Grant Rivers-built motor for Karipiro. It’s a really powerful and strong motor that has held up very well. I’ll probably change back to the new one for Blue Lakes with a view to deciding which to use if we go to Australia for the E C Griffiths later.
“I made some minor changes this season like altering the position of my steering wheel, which as made a huge difference. Subtle changes can make a big difference.
“I’ve actually sold my boat and it goes at the end of the season, so I need to be careful. I will be replacing it, though,” Alexander said.
Jack Lupton was philosophical about losing the Masport Cup, blaming himself for not tightening down his fuel lid.
“It was my own fault and I stopped dead in the water, but when I got back in, it started again immediately. Mine and David’s are sister boats from Bert Henderson in Canada and are performing very well. He has been really, really quick this season, but so has everyone else.”
Lupton said when all boats were performing to expectations, racing was extremely tight in the class.
Both Lupton and Alexander were confident issues in all the Waverley boats would be ironed out before Blue Lakes and predicted close racing.
Hydro Thunder Series points after two rounds
David Alexander GP009 Steeler – 2675points
Jack Lupton Penrite Repco GP57 – 2300pts
Ken Lupton Lucas Oils GP009 – 2300pts
Scott Coker Fair Warning GP10 – 1488pts
Kevin Ireland GP21 The Gambler – 1269pts
Chris Picard GP24 Tiger – 1019pts
Warwick Lupton GP.007 Annihilator – 927pts
Steve Preece GP008 Annihilator 2 – 471pts