National power boat champion Julian Stilwell, of Nelson, in action at the Acceleration On Water, Festival Of Speed Tour at Lake Rotoiti on Saturday. Photos: Barry Whitnall/Shuttersport.

Stilwell on top at powerboat champs

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It’s not been much of a home advantage but Formula1 Powerboat racer Julian Stillwell is still smiling after winning the first round of the New Zealand Tour at Lake Rotoiti over the weekend.

A local competitor, Julian is the current 1NZ in the top outboard class, but a change in format means that title will be much harder to defend this season. In the past the 1NZ title has been contested at a one off national championship. However, in a move that all drivers supported, it will now be decided over the course of the whole tour. “So whoever accumulates the most points over the series will be the New Zealand champion next year,” Julian explains.

So it’s not surprising that the weekend’s victory at the Nelson Lakes Regatta gave Julian plenty of reasons to be happy, having finished second overall in the tour last year. “It’s always a good one to win I reckon and it was very close, so I know it’s going to be a tough season.”

And although he is a local, the Lake Rotoiti course didn’t offer much of a home advantage as Julian doesn’t test up there because it’s a national park. “We generally do the testing on one side of Rabbit Island but it is very hard because there’s limited testing venues and it’s all on a Saturday morning.”

The Nelson Lakes Regatta, which was held in association with the Lake Rotoiti Power Boat Club and Acceleration on Water Event Management, saw a variety of classes contest the two-day event. The feature races included round one of the Acceleration on Water Festival of Speed Tour, the NZF1 Tour, Pelorus Jack Trophy, Arthur McCaa Trophy and the South Island titles for Modified Hydroplane and Clubman Classes.