Home grown World Jet Boat Champions

Christchurch businessman and jet boat navigator Paul Vernel has become the CX Class World Jet Boat Champion after he and his driver Mark Agnew from Queenstown held off a late charge from another Canterbury racer, to secure the title in the week long ITM World Championship Jet Boat Marathon held in the South Island.

Competing in the largest formula class where engines are identical and driver and navigator skill is paramount, Vernel and Agnew’s experience shone through. The pair has regularly competed in race events over the past six years, snaring a 2nd place in the World Championships in the smaller FX class four years ago before taking a break to to re-group with a new CX powered race boat. On debut they won the Interprovincial CX class champs this year in the lead up to the worlds.

An experienced jet boater Vernel is no stranger to guiding jet boats on braided rivers, having been the owner operator of Canterbury’s premier tourist jet boat operation Alpine Jet & Jet Thrills for the past seventeen years.

“…at speeds over 170 kph it’s certainly faster than our ‘Alpine Jet Thrills’ tourist boats but the thrill of racing across shallow braided rivers is just as exhilarating”

Paul Vernel, Owner & Director, Alpine Jet & Jet Thrills

It was a long week with competitors from four countries vying for titles in four classes including the unlimited gas turbine class. “They certainly have higher top speeds than we do [at nearly 225kph] but reliability is a factor in this sport where you must start and finish every leg to be eligible for an outright placing”.

What’s next for the newly crowned world champions? “There’s been a lot of hard slog preparing and competing in this year’s worlds and right now Mark and I are just focusing on our respective businesses. We’re coming into busy season on the Waimakariri here in Canterbury so ‘Alpine Jet Thrills’ will be the focus for the next few months.”

The pair has considered contesting the Canadian Marathon next year, an event that has attracted plenty of kiwis in the past, but for now it’s time for Paul Vernel to get back to the business of entertaining tourists on the Waimakariri river.