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Twin Turbines

This is an unusual story about a man and his toys… and his son. It’s a generational thing in the Cromie Clan. Back in the 1980s many will remember the dulcet tones of Laurie Cromie marching around the river bank proudly pronouncing the skills of his up and coming son Mark to anyone who cared to listen. Old Laurie was right about one thing, Mark was good… he was champion material and he proved that winning the 1980 World Jet Boat Marathon as a virtual unknown. He’s proven it on several occasions since, over a racing career spanning more than five decades and across more than one continent.

So it’s interesting to watch now as another changing of the guard might just be taking place. The recent time trials at Lake Karapiro saw Mark trying out his latest 23ft KwikKiwi, while son Nigel was getting to grips with the gas turbine’s twin 21ft KwikKiwi. Sheryl Cromie picks up the story a few years ago.

When I first met Mark he had two World Championships under his belt. Going out with a jet boater meant I had to up-skill and quickly. First – how to drive a jet boat. Second – how to back a trailer and third, how to drive a jet boat onto a trailer. I can’t remember how long it took me to master those skills but it must have been done fairly quickly as 30 years later I’m still here.

Jet Sprinting started to take off so I became Mark’s navigator. Three weeks after getting married in 1988 we won the New Zealand Jet Sprint Championship.

This position was short lived when I became pregnant… still available to back the trailer though!

Both our children love jet boating. Summer holidays mean boating, water skiing, wake boarding and fishing. As they got older they learnt how to drive the boat or boats – Mark seems to accumulate them. Along the way Nigel decided he needed to learn how to back a trailer and so I got kicked out of the driver’s seat. My skills have got rusty through lack of use.

The next generation is coming through. Nigel moved to Christchurch to University and once near the rivers jet boating became a major leisure activity. With driving time under his belt the next move was into racing. My criteria for his first race was simple – Mark had to be the navigator… so off they went in the sport jet. A few races later an FX boat was purchased and Nigel started to work his way through the classes.

So this is where it’s led to. He has now progressed to a Gas Turbine. Lake Karapiro gave him valuable drive time with the added incentive of racing against his father. Competitive natures came to the fore – Cromie on Cromie, Senior vs Junior. Nigel beat his father not once but TWICE!… and I heard Mark mumble “I’ll take that boat off him!”

How quickly time has passed. When I watched the film of the 1980 World Jet Boat Championship where that almost unknown jet boater stormed home to win, the narrator states “…and here comes the youngster Cromie”. I joked that one day it would be “…and here comes Grandad Cromie”. Seems that might just be on the cards!

In Mark’s defence at Lake Karapiro he was setting up his newest and longest KwikKiwi and maybe the 23’ tunnel wasn’t completely dialled in. But that doesn’t take anything away from Nigel Cromie who clearly demonstrated the family gene pool has made a successful transition.