Sealegs Amphibious Tenders Compete In Fast And Furious Competition
Published: Friday, 13 March 2015
On the last Sunday in February, New Zealand’s Waiheke Island reverberated to the sound of Sealegs amphibious tenders racing around Onetangi beach. The island’s local community has the most number of Sealegs per capita in the world with more than 60 of the vessels in use.
The biggest amphibious race in the world, the event ably demonstrates the power and performance of these vessels. Honda-powered hydraulic wheels retract in the water where the boats display their bullish abilities, while on land the motorised, steerable system allows the boat to move seamlessly from land to water.
The Le Mans start saw Team USA lead the quick sprint up the beach to the line up of craft. Jumping aboard, runners threw the keys to the drivers and then it was a dash for the water line. With a top speed of 10km on land, the craft jostled for the line as their outboards descended while driving into the water.
Spectators roared as the first vessels to take off spouted jets of water over the followers, and then it was an all out sprint for the first buoy. Big Evinrude engines powered the entrants around the marker and into a long straight where the craft were able to show their power. Capable of going up to 80kms on the water, the fleet flew around the second buoy, where one unfortunate team member fell out – and was quickly recovered – before heading for the beach.
Wheels descending, the fleet drove right up to the water’s edge and onto the beach, rounding the marker to head down the stretch in front of a cheering crowd. Into the second lap and the clear leader became evident. Simon Harding, two time winner of the race, threw his vessel into battle and the effort paid off as he emerged from the water a second time with a good lead on the pack following in his wake.
As he crossed the line, the crowd cheered for the local taking out his third title, while the other competitors chased for second and third. Waiheke residents were the winners on the day though, with Scott Unsworth taking second place and the Edmonds family following him in third.
New Zealand’s singers Sol3 presented the trophies to the winners, before competitors retired to a hospitality tent to talk winning, strategy and next year’s tactics.
Check out a video of the race here: