A Bay of Plenty jet sprint team kicked off the season with an impressive start in Wanaka last weekend.
Aaron Hansen and Julie Ann Shanks, now in their third season together, were one of many teams who attended the event.
It marks the first round of the season for the nationwide Altherm NZ Jet Sprint Championship. Around 2000 spectators attended the event hosted at Oxbow Adventure Aquatrack.
“We ended up fifth, but we were only 0.8 seconds behind the person who placed in third,” says Aaron.
“We're quietly confident, we know there were a couple of corners where we were losing time, and there were seconds to be gained which would have placed us in a podium finish.
“It's a little unfortunate the race meeting was called short due to the second accident of the day taking out the safety fence. We missed two rounds.”
The race comes after what co-driver Julie says has been a busy winter.
“There's been a lot of developments on the engine,” she explains. “We had quite an average season last time around, which came down to engine and jet unit problems.
“One of the things we worked on was getting the rotation right earlier in the day,” says Aaron. “If you haven't got that right in the early qualifiers it puts you in the back seat quite early on.
“The motor received quite an extensive rebuild, which involved significant replacement of performance parts to try and achieve a better end horsepower and torque result.”
He says repairs were also made on the bottom of the boat.
“We were extremely lucky this year, as we've managed to get the boat out a couple of times and ascertain its performance as well as some of those changes we made in the off season.
“We're confident we're on the right track,” he says.
“This upcoming season is going to be massive for all New Zealand competitors.
“We've got a huge field of boats and it's our last chance to gauge ourselves against the rest of the competitors with the view of the Worlds event in October next year.
“It's going to come down to consistency and finishing in the top five every round.”
Next up for the pair is an event at Wairarapa on December 2.
“We've got a few little things to do prior to that – a few tweaks to the engine and we're good to go,” adds Aaron.