A boat that set a world speed record in 1968 was back on the water to take the top prize at this year’s NZ Antique
& Classic Boat Show, held at Lake Rotoiti in the Nelson Lakes National Park over the weekend. (March 5 and 6 2016).
Around 120 clinkers, steam launches, classic motorboats, sailing dinghies and their owners enjoyed two days of
boating and chatting about boats, with the Jens Hansen trophy for best vessel overall going to Bel Air III, owned
by the Knight family of Christchurch.
Peter Knight Snr built the 13ft 8in hydroplane from plywood and white pine in 1965. Powered by a Ford V6 Essex
(Mark 4 Zephyr), Bel Air achieved several Australasian records in the late ‘60s and set a world record at Lake
Ruataniwha in 1968 with a speed of 177.36mph. Bel Air was retired from racing in 1970 and ‘sat in the garage’
until it was restored in 2015 by Peter Knight Jr.
Boat show organiser Pete Rainey said he is thrilled to announce that the Knights have decided to leave Bel Air III
display in the Classic Boat Museum at St Arnaud.
“To have a world record holding hydroplane as part of the display will give the museum a boost as year round
attraction,” he said. “The Knights’ generosity is typical of the spirit of sharing of know-how and experience that
this boat show is all about. It’s been another fantastic weekend of sunny weather, happy crowds, excellent
sailing conditions and great boating.”
Judges’ spokesman John Harris said the standard of boats at the 17th annual boat show was making his job difficult.
“It’s becoming very hard to judge when there are three or four boats in each category worthy of winning,” he said.
“But people are not in it for the prizes, they’re in it for a great day of boating and I’d like to commend them all for
their effort and enthusiasm for classic boats.”