Family rivalry back on in Napier powerboat race

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Class Red Steel in action, with Charlotte Carson and Tony Carson.

The Carson family's race within a race in Saturday's Napier offshore powerboat classic is back on with the replacement of a wrecked boat, an engine recovered from the ocean floor, and a couple of gun-shy young racers in the cockpit.

The return to the fray has been confirmed by Auckland-based Wayne Carson, who returns to the old home town to watch sons Max and Jamie take on the Napier team of uncle Tony Carson and his daughter Charlotte in the penultimate round of a family rivalry which has been a feature of the 2017 New Zealand Offshore Powerboat Association drivers championship.

But just 12 days ago the Sports 200-class rivalry seemed to be over for the season with the Auckland-based D&H Steel wrecked off Taipa in the Far North and Max and Jamie Carson rescued from the sea by "Uncle Tony" on the boat Red Steel and taken to hospital with injuries received in a crash in the series' Doubtless Bay debut.

Three days after the race Wayne Carson returned to Taipa to search for the boat, in a race against time as Cyclone Cook headed New Zealand's way from the Pacific.

"We found it using a sonar, which we dragged around for about three hours," he said. "Then we sent a diver down to secure a line. It was on its side and dragging on the bottom. We got it just before the storm, so we had a real tight time frame."

A diver attached a line and the wreck was hauled to the surface, beyond repair with its deck stripped but with an engine and other items which were able to be salvaged and put into another boat quickly made available by Superboat 400-class team NZ Home Loans owner Brett Haeger.

"He phoned me a couple of days after the crash wanting to do anything he could to help," Wayne Carson said.

As for the crews for Saturday's race, an hour-long "jam" starting at 1pm and on a near triangular circuit off Westshore and Ahuriri, some decisions are still to be made as to who will be in the boats.

"Our team is somewhat gun-shy," said Wayne Carson.

The boat will be driven by 22-year-old Max, whose nose was broken in the crash, but 20-year-old Jamie still has a sore left arm, which was initially thought to have been broken.

A decision will be left until race day, and their father said Jamie's seat is almost certain to be taken by sister Shara, 18.

"Shara wants a turn anyway," he said.

As for the home team, Tony Carson, who with his brother won two national drivers championships in the 1990s, is jumping ship to race in classic boat Gull Force. His seat in Red Steel is being taken by team mechanic Quentin Swayne.

Up to 25 boats are expected in the race, Gull Force being among a small number expected to arrive in Napier today.

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