by Holly Dukeson


  • Top selling outboards brands were Mercury, Johnson, Evinrude, Chrysler and British Seagull.
  • The Bonito 16 announced the arrival on the market of Bonito Boats, a name that is still very much part of the boating scene today.
  • MerCruiser, OMC, Chrysler and Volvo Penta sterndrives installed in 6m plus cabin cruisers became more popular.
  • Peter Knight drove Roadrunner to his third consecutive Masport Cup win.
  • Mike Dempster broke the NZ outboard speed record with 102.8mph and then on the next run flipped over backwards. Bell-X-II also cracked the ton with a speed of 101.2 mph.
  • Glastron boats from the USA became available in New Zealand.
  • Mariner outboards were released by Monarch Distributors Ltd with a range from 2hp to 55hp.
  • The 11ft 6in (3.5m) PMC Fisherman open runabout topped over 500 sales.
  • Offshore rules for the North Island stated that all advertising material shall be limited to the aft 25% of a boat. The reason was to stop major sponsors and big money entering the sport!
  • Bay Marine of Tauranga introduced two fibreglass boats to the market, Bay Cruiser 19 and Bay Cruiser 22.
  • Jack Gallagher’s tunnel hull, Hi-Jack, dominated the South Island marathon circuit.
  • Miss Kiwi won the Rio Balsas jetboat race in Mexico.
Bonito 16

Flying under the radar in Hamilton was Ray Fink Boatbuilders

Ray started commercially boatbuilding in 1960, building a 20 footer for a Hamilton client. Ray progressed into a rural property in the mid 60’s to Tamahere between Hamilton and Cambridge where he lived and worked in his factory for 36 years. Ray built a numerous number of timber and plywood boats from runabouts to launches and a commercial fishing and crayfishing vessel for Kawhia on the Westcoast in 1981. Quality was Ray’s passion building with varnished mahogany in many cases. Ray managed in his career to building just on 50 new boats with one built in 1971 a 24 foot trailer boat winning boat of the show at the Greenlane Boatshow with a boat called Allenessa. Ray employed a number of staff over the years, two of whom were his sons. Lance after eleven years working for Ray let alone his school holiday jobs went into boatbuilding business with his wife to build up Tristram Marine which now has a third Fink generation running the company (Tristram and Kingsley). Ray’s youngest son Andrew worked for Ray Fink Boatbuilders for many years and then took over Ray’s business and went on to build along with his wife many launches for both New Zealand and Australia. These legacies, Ray now 92, is very proud to have been the instigator to both of their successes.

Ray Fink Boatbuilders - Allenessa


  • Full face helmets were banned from speedboat racing in New Zealand.
  • New Zealand’s first all-aluminium boat trailer was built by Petone based Aluminium Services Ltd for boats up to 15ft.
  • A team from Hamilton Marine successfully negotiated the 2718-mile Zaire River in two 18ft Ford powered Hamilton jetboats.
  • Ron Archer won an unprecedented 9 out of 9 races in Class E, in his Volvo-Penta powered Headhunter and took out the championship.
  • Neil McCorkindale won an unprecedented third successive overall win in the Epiglass 40-mile race on Auckland Harbour, driving Jacqui Hunter, his Haines Hunter V163 runabout.
  • New model releases included the Haines Hunter V198, Cresta Craft V26, Apollo 6.6, Bay Cruiser V7, Sportsman 22 and Steadecraft 14’3” (4.3m) runabout, designed and built by Keith Eade, who had considerable success racing a cut-down, lightweight version.
Haines Hunter V198


  • The McGregor brothers retained the Masport Cup and continued to dominate the unlimited hydroplane scene in Air New Zealand.
  • Neil McCorkindale sold Jacqui Hunter, his Haines Hunter V163 runabout, and replaced it with a new boat, naturally named Jacqui Hunter II, a cut-down Haines Hunter V19 runabout powered by a Mercury 135hp “tower of power”. Cutting the gunwale height reduced the length from 18’4” (5.59m) to 17’6” (5.33m). In its first race, the Auckland 6-hour Atlantic Boat Show Marathon, Neil and long-time crewman Garry Feran came 6th on speed and 1st on handicap.
  • Talk of boat registration was outlined by the Ministry of Transport, but despite a lot of talk, nothing has ever happened, to this day!
  • Alli-Craft joined the growing tinnie market, with a 12ft 6in runabout.
  • Other new releases included the Bonito 16 sports runabout, Morgan 6.3, Sea Nymph Sovereign 716, Marlborough 415, Fi Glass Dominator and Fi-Glass Viscount.
  • The Morgan 6.3 made its debut at the Auckland Boat Show in September 1972.
  • Phillip Mills launched Wrangler, a 24ft Ryancraft offshore tunnel hull powered by twin Johnson V6 200s, then the largest offshore catamaran in Australasia. He had outstanding success both in the South and North Island.
  • Frank McLeod broke world and Australasian class records with his inboard hydroplane, Miss Wix. Speed was 128.9 mph.
  • The number of trailer boats built under 20ft (6.1 m) in the 1971-72 period was 2795.
  • The directors of Wiseman’s (known as the sports stores conducted by experts) with over 40 branches throughout New Zealand, responded to the company’s poor performance by closing some branches and offering the others to their respective managers. Les Miller was the manager of the Newmarket branch, which was known as Wiseman’s Boating and Machinery Centre, which sold Fleetline fibreglass runabouts, notably the 4.5m Sapphire, designed by Rex Henry and made by Fibreglass Moulders Ltd, and Haines Hunter boats, notably the V198, also made by Fibreglass Moulders Ltd, under licence to the Haines family company, of Queensland. Les Miller wanted to purchase Wiseman’s Newmarket business, but needed a partner as he lacked the resources to do so on his own. With a lot of help from his accountant, Don St Clair Brown, Miller was introduced to Bill Moyes and the new company became Miller Moyes Boating Centre. In 1975, Miller and Moyes purchased a car dealership in Panmure. The next year, Bill Moyes decided to expand the car business and wanted to merge their boat business with their car business. Les Miller wasn’t in favour of that, and the pair struck a deal which gave Miller ownership of the marine operation and Moyes went on to become a big name in the Auckland car business, based in Panmure.
Sapphire 4.5m


  • Peter Knight won back the Masport Cup in The Godfather.
  • A split in the offshore powerboat racing ranks in Auckland saw the formation of the Northern Offshore Powerboat Club dedicated to racing, leaving the Auckland PBRO to run rally events.
  • New model releases included Manta 464 and 488, Bonito 20, Smuggler 6.3, L28 Lindstrom, Steadecraft V166, Trophy Conqueror and Hamilton 210.
  • The inaugural Atlantic 100 rally attracted 73 entries and was won by an eight-year-old 16ft Frank Pelin designed plywood runabout, powered by a 65 hp Mercury and skippered by Neil McCorkindale and Gary Feran.
  • Barry Ford launched his Cougar catamaran, Typhoon at Akaroa and won convincingly. It marked a new era in racing and set the standards for winning boats in the future.
  • The first-ever offshore marathon was held, with 43 starters running in a three-day event from Tutukaka to Auckland. The first Citizen Watch Marathon was won by Maurie Begley’s Clipper 26SR, Miss Trailways.
  • Peter Knight raced in the World 7-Litre hydroplane championships in Los Angeles in a chartered boat and finished third.
  • Smuggler Boats introduced the very popular Smuggler 6.3, in cabin and runabout versions.
Smuggler 6.3


  • Sales of boat plans for home builders started to wane as more and more stock production fibreglass boats became available.
  • Brian and Louise Pearce crossed the Tasman in a Cresta Craft 26ft Galaxy. They took 53 hours from Houhora to Norfolk Island, 65 hours from Norfolk to Lord Howe and a further 46 hours from Lord Howe to Sydney.
  • Jim McAlpine broke the Bay of Islands to Auckland speed record in Pizza Hut, with a time of 2hrs 20 mins. Ken Lusty then dropped that to 2hr 14min 24 secs, using the same boat.
  • Jim McAlpine, Ron Archer and Bob Menzies competed in the gruelling Pacific 1000 in the 26ft Pizza Hut and finished seventh. Warwick Irvine’s 6m monohull from New Zealand took a creditable fifth.
  • Through to the mid-1970s Seacraft experienced spectacular growth. It was during this period that the company opened a factory in Fiji to support the developing export market. The NZ domestic market was enjoying unprecedented growth and the range of Sea Craft fibreglass boats benefitted hugely at this time. 
Cresta Craft 26ft


  • OMC released 200hp 90-degree V6 Johnson and Evinrude outboards for the 1976 model year. These were the first V6 production outboards.
  • Not long after, Mercury Marine responded with the 175hp 60-degree V6 Black Max, and the outboard horsepower race was on. It continues to this day!
  • Marksply dominated the top end of the trailer boat market with their Marksply 776 flybridge cruiser and the Marksply 686 weekender.
  • In response to (or was it in anticipation of?) the introduction of V6 outboards, Fi-Glass introduced the Baron, a 7m ‘scaled-up’ Viscount.
  • Another fuel crisis – the third in the 1970s – caused a lot of offshore and circuit racing events to be cancelled or cut down by as much as 50%. It also put a further dampener on the sales of powerboats, as they became even more expensive to run.
  • A big swing towards trailer yachts cut into the trailer boat market as owners sold their ‘gas guzzling’ outboards in favour of sails. It didn’t last long and within a few years trailer yacht sales decreased dramatically.
  • Doug Cameron won the Masport Cup despite a broken propeller. The McGregor brothers’ Air New Zealand was held up by a Cook Strait shipping strike and missed the race.
  • The Ministry of Transport brought in a regulation to make it illegal to dangle your arms and legs over the bow of a small boat doing more than 5 knots.
  • The seven-day, five-stage Citizen Watch marathon was won by Roger Wood in his Cougar catamaran, Typhoon.
  • Keith Eade won the Glenvale Driver of the Year award after a most successful circuit racing season.
  • John Garrity won his debut marathon race at Queenstown in his new Cougar tunnel hull, Visor and later in the year took third overall in the Pacific 1000 off Queensland.
  • The Morgan 5.3 – little sister to the Morgan 6.3 – was introduced. Designer Peter Morgan, having had a ‘Eureka’ moment while having his morning shower, first had his 6.3 hull mould gelcoated, then filled the bottom spray strake with polyester ‘bog’. He then had fibreglass gunstock sprayed into the 6.3 hull mould, and added a couple of temporary mdf bulkheads. After the 5.3 hull plug was removed from the 6.3 hull mould, he used a cold chisel to whack off the bottom spray strake that had previously been filled with ‘bog’, then cut a 178mm-wide longitudinal slice from the centre, including the two bulkheads, and cut around the topsides 40mm above the knuckle, thus making the topsides the same height as his original Aurora, which had been used as the hull plug for the Clipper 20. Next, after joining the port and starboard halves together whilst keeping the deadrise unchanged, he shortened the piece of the 6.3 hull by the appropriate amount for the making of the 5.3 hull plug, and then added a flat transom with radiused corners. After fairing and spraying with 2-pot polyurethane reaction lacquer, the hull plug was ready for the 5.3 hull mould to be made. Next came work on the deck plug, incorporating similar styling to that of the 6.3, but with a two-flat-panel front windscreen in armour-plate glass.
Fi Glass Baron


  • The Johnson 235hp V6 retailed for $6621, the Mercury 200hp V6 for $5983 and the Suzuki 65 for $2749. Top-selling outboards were Johnson/ Evinrude, Mercury and Chrysler.
  • The popular Seacraft Sierra makes its first appearance.
  • A new brand name emerged from the Waikato – Buccaneer – designed and built by Gerry Gerrand. The first model was a 4.7m cabin boat, the next a runabout version – and the rest is history!
Seacraft Sierra


  • Fi-Glass introduced the 17ft (5.2m) Warrior which became oneof the top-selling models in the Fi-Glass range. A more modern version of it is still being produced today. It has a re-designed hull and has been lengthened by the addition of an integral bowsprit and a portofino transom.
  • Fibreglass Moulders introduced the Fleetline Solitaire, a 5.0m cuddy cabin convertible. Like its smaller Sapphire siblings, it was designed by Rex Henry.
  • Fibreglass Moulders also introduced the Haines Hunter V17R, a deep-V runabout designed by John Haines. This model replaced the V17, which had originally been ‘designed’ simply by shortening a V19, the hull of which had been ‘flopped’ by the Haines family company from a hull originally designed by Ray Hunt and produced in the USA as the O’Day 18 and in the UK as the Fairey Marine
  • By 1977 world events started to impact the NZ economy – fuel crisis, carless days etc.
Fleetline solitaire


  • Buccaneer Pleasure Craft Ltd introduced its second hull design, a 5.6m, available as a cabin boat and also as a runabout.
  • Alloy boat builders started to have a stronger presence in trailerable powerboating, including large brands such as Ramco and Fyran, becoming popular in the late 1970’s.
  • C.W.F. Hamilton, the inventor of the modern water jet unit, passed away.
Buccaneer 5.6m
C.W.F Hamilton


  • Imposed in June without warning, Prime Minister Muldoon’s 20% boat and caravan tax hit both industries hard, with massive lay-offs right across the markets. The impact of sales tax was severe. In some cases such as Seacraft, production went from three boats a week to one new boat for the year.
  • Many companies closed and it took years for the boat industry to build itself back. The tax was effectively halved in 1986 when GST was introduced, initially at 10%.
  • The Luxury Tax certainly cooled the market and in the early 1980’s it took a ‘bit of paddling’ to get the industry back up and running again… Which we will cover in our next issue…

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