Lesson taken from fiery crash

Gisborne pair enter with new boat and an adversity-altered attitude.

Gisborne pair enter with new boat and an adversity-altered attitude.

NOT-SO-HAPPY MEMORIES: Gisborne jetsprinters Blake Briant and Kate Hoogerbrug will never forget the last time they raced at Baypark and neither will those watching. The couple experienced one of the most spectacular crashes in the history of this fine-line, high-octane motor sport during the world championships in January of 2016. Their boat barrel-rolled then went end over end multiple times in a fiery end to their title hopes. They were extremely lucky to escape with minor injuries — a testament to the safety structure of these boats. Hoogerbrug says the crash is in the back of their minds heading into the ENZED Stadium Cup — a one-off event before the resumption of the New Zealand championships — but they have put it behind them and are fully focused on their game plan. Pictures supplied
Much to the relief of family and friends Blake Briant and Kate Hoogerbrug suffered only bruising in this spectacular crash at UIM world jetsprint championships at Baypark this weekend. Picture by Stuart Whitaker, The Write Angle Freelance Writing & Photography

DISASTER brought a Gisborne jetsprinting couple international fame but also taught them what could end up being a New Zealand title-winning lesson.

Driver Blake Briant and navigator Kate Hoogerbrug head into Round 3 of the national championships armed with a new boat and an adversity-altered attitude.

The pair won the opening two rounds (December/January) of the six-round New Zealand championships before attacking the two-round UIM world championships in late January.

They underlined their favouritism for the Group A title with a win in Round 1 of the worlds at Meremere, only to come to grief in Round 2 in spectacular fashion.

The pair crashed on the temporary track at Baypark in a side-over-side, then end-over-end series of rolls, punctuated by a fiery reaction . . . all caught on camera.

They were able to walk away and were taken to hospital but suffered no serious injuries.

Their downfall made for thrilling viewing on television news and the internet.

But they were gutted not to be able to follow in the footsteps of Blake’s multiple world-title-winning father Pete, whose pre-Baypark words — “to win, first you must finish” — proved prophetic.

The hull of Briant’s No.52 boat copped the bulk of the damage. It was written off and Briant moved quickly into action to replace it.

Clocking up the kilometres and a huge number of personal hours from Team Briant, the replacement efforts produced a new boat equal to, if not faster than, the old one.

Just how quick this rocketship can go may not be shown tomorrow as Briant and Hoogerbrug tackle a new track at Waitara for Round 3 of the nationals.

“Winning isn’t everything this weekend; getting our confidence back and finishing on the podium are the main aims,” Hoogerbrug told The Herald this week.

Back with a vengeance

They were “back with a vengeance”, she said, but would change their approach.

“Over the season we wanted to get out and set the pace — go hard and go fast from the start. After Baypark we realised we can afford to take it easier and suss the track out a bit more. We’ve got four qualifiers (qualifying runs) we can take advantage of.”

The focus was on making the top three then upping the game from there, although the pair were aware they might not have to win every round from here to clinch the title.

Testing of the new set-up had been successful, Hoogerbrug said.

Their fastest top-end speed was greater than the old boat and it handled the rough water “very well” on the pond they tested it on.

It was “hard to explain” the feeling of getting back in the boat after the crash, which many felt they were extremely lucky to emerge from unscathed.

“I felt the adrenalin pumping through my heart. It was exciting.”

An element of history repeating itself could be read into tomorrow’s racing.

It is only about a year since they debuted a new boat after a workshop fire destroyed their original one.

Like that unpainted boat, in which they won two rounds of the champs and placed third overall, their latest machine is sporting a fairly “naked” look.

Hoogerbrug said they had not had time to paint it and would just “slap a couple of stickers on it”.

Briant and Hoogerbrug go into Round 3 with the maximum 60 points, world champion Ric Burke (Hamilton) is second on 55 and reigning champion Sam Newdick (Hamilton), with Gisborne’s Glenn Mason in the navigator’s seat, is third on 54.

DISASTER brought a Gisborne jetsprinting couple international fame but also taught them what could end up being a New Zealand title-winning lesson.

Driver Blake Briant and navigator Kate Hoogerbrug head into Round 3 of the national championships armed with a new boat and an adversity-altered attitude.

The pair won the opening two rounds (December/January) of the six-round New Zealand championships before attacking the two-round UIM world championships in late January.

They underlined their favouritism for the Group A title with a win in Round 1 of the worlds at Meremere, only to come to grief in Round 2 in spectacular fashion.

The pair crashed on the temporary track at Baypark in a side-over-side, then end-over-end series of rolls, punctuated by a fiery reaction . . . all caught on camera.

They were able to walk away and were taken to hospital but suffered no serious injuries.

Their downfall made for thrilling viewing on television news and the internet.

But they were gutted not to be able to follow in the footsteps of Blake’s multiple world-title-winning father Pete, whose pre-Baypark words — “to win, first you must finish” — proved prophetic.

The hull of Briant’s No.52 boat copped the bulk of the damage. It was written off and Briant moved quickly into action to replace it.

Clocking up the kilometres and a huge number of personal hours from Team Briant, the replacement efforts produced a new boat equal to, if not faster than, the old one.

Just how quick this rocketship can go may not be shown tomorrow as Briant and Hoogerbrug tackle a new track at Waitara for Round 3 of the nationals.

“Winning isn’t everything this weekend; getting our confidence back and finishing on the podium are the main aims,” Hoogerbrug told The Herald this week.

Back with a vengeance

They were “back with a vengeance”, she said, but would change their approach.

“Over the season we wanted to get out and set the pace — go hard and go fast from the start. After Baypark we realised we can afford to take it easier and suss the track out a bit more. We’ve got four qualifiers (qualifying runs) we can take advantage of.”

The focus was on making the top three then upping the game from there, although the pair were aware they might not have to win every round from here to clinch the title.

Testing of the new set-up had been successful, Hoogerbrug said.

Their fastest top-end speed was greater than the old boat and it handled the rough water “very well” on the pond they tested it on.

It was “hard to explain” the feeling of getting back in the boat after the crash, which many felt they were extremely lucky to emerge from unscathed.

“I felt the adrenalin pumping through my heart. It was exciting.”

An element of history repeating itself could be read into tomorrow’s racing.

It is only about a year since they debuted a new boat after a workshop fire destroyed their original one.

Like that unpainted boat, in which they won two rounds of the champs and placed third overall, their latest machine is sporting a fairly “naked” look.

Hoogerbrug said they had not had time to paint it and would just “slap a couple of stickers on it”.

Briant and Hoogerbrug go into Round 3 with the maximum 60 points, world champion Ric Burke (Hamilton) is second on 55 and reigning champion Sam Newdick (Hamilton), with Gisborne’s Glenn Mason in the navigator’s seat, is third on 54.

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