Nicole Reesby, left, and Scott Donald in action. PHOTO/VANDI PHOTOGRAPHY
Nearly 14,000 people watched Wairarapa’s Scott Donald and Nicole Reesby take third place at the Jet Sprints event at Baypark Stadium in Tauranga on Saturday.
The arena — which usually caters for speedway and field events — was transformed into a rough figure of eight design with the grass infield cut into deep trenches and filled with two million litres of water.
Donald drives while Reesby navigates, and the duo produced a stunning display in the super boats class to snatch the last available spot on the podium.
Donald has lived in Wairarapa his whole life, while Reesby is originally from Rotorua.
They are currently enjoying their third season racing together, and for Donald the sport had always been a part of the family.
“I’ve pretty much been doing it my whole life . . . when I was young I started navigating for dad, when jet sprinting was in its very early days.
“I stopped for a few years when I had kids, and got back into it two or three years ago.”
Saturday’s event was reserved only for the best of the best, and you had to be in the top 10 on the New Zealand circuit to enter.
Donald said they had endured a bad run in the first event at Wanaka in November, but had got things back on track in Whanganui for round two.
The second round was originally scheduled to be held at Tauherenikau in Wairarapa, but issues with water restrictions meant the event had to be cancelled.
“That was a real shame — that track really suits me,” Donald said.
“It’s probably one of the best tracks in the country to be honest — it’s a really challenging track and draws spectators from afar because it’s renowned for being tough.”
Donald said racing in a stadium was “totally different” to racing in traditional venues, and the atmosphere was “huge”.
“Racing under lights is a different story — you’re trying to read the wakes and the various depths of the water.
“You just have to charge through really because you’re running blind a bit, and you get the reflection of the land on the water too.”
Neither Donald nor Reesby have suffered any serious injuries from the sport, but they came close to catastrophe in an event last season.
“We jumped a couple of channels and ended up right through the spectator fence — I even made the news,” Donald said.
“We hit an island and I corrected a bit late, and we ended up parked on someone’s chilly bin.”
This season, they are using an intercom for the first time to improve their communication.
Some teething issues had contributed to their disappointing result in Wanaka, but they were getting better at every event, he said.
“We had our hand signals which we used predominantly, but this year is our first year with an intercom.
“It really stuffed us up in the first round at Wanaka — it was a bit hard to get used to.”
They have upcoming events in Waitara [two], Hastings and Meremere to perfect their system and move their way up the super boats overall standings for the New Zealand circuit where they currently sit ninth.