Nelson’s Lee Merrion won the 2018 national junior powerboat champs at the Blue Lakes in Rotorua. Photo: Supplied.

Nelson jetboater wins national title

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Fifteen year old Lee Merrion loves the adrenaline of driving at high speed.

The Nelson teenager won the 2018 New Zeeland Power Boat Junior National Champs in Rotorua on March 6.

Lee won his first race comfortably before being pipped in the second. He went on to win the competition by just three seconds over 2017 champion Haylee Macbeth from Auckland.

Chris Dufue, also from Nelson, got 2nd in the F3 class at the Nationals.

On board ‘The Huntsmen,’ Lee says he reached speeds of about 51mph to finish two podiums higher than his 2017 result.

“Last year I ended up rolling which took me out of contention for first or second and I got third in a different boat, but this year I raced in my Dad’s.”

He says there are only three of these boats in New Zealand.

“It has 30 horsepower on it and gets up to 55mph.”

Lee says he was aiming for third or fourth but gained pole position in his first race and “just happened to get in front.”

“We just wanted to get up there and compete with the top boats in the North Island.”
Lee’s journey into the sport was a natural progression with his father Craig also an avid enthusiast.

“Dad got me a boat and a couple years later I was racing.”

He says he and Craig often take their boat out to Rabbit Island and spend some time in the seat.

Lee is a member of Rotoiti Power Boat Club and has been racing for three years. This weekend Lee travels to Hokitika to defend his South Island title.