Video: Couple survive fiery jetboat crash


The past 18 months have been pretty rough for jetsprint racers Kate Hoogerbrug and Blake Briant.

In September, 2014, the boat owned by the Gisborne couple was destroyed by fire at the workshop where it was being stored.

Then, after setting themselves up with a new sprint boat for this season, their world championship hopes were crushed following a fiery crash at Mount Maunganui on Saturday.

"It's pretty huge. We started from scratch the last season, and now we're starting from scratch again halfway through this season," laughs Ms Hoogerbrug.

When you see the pictures and watch the video, it's incredible to think the pair walked away from the crash with just a couple of bruises.

The boat and its occupants are equipped with a significant range of safety equipment, to help prevent serious injuries.

They'd been competing in the second round of the jetsprint world champs, which were held in New Zealand this year.

It appears as if the engine caught fire while the boat was flipping in the air, but 23-year-old Hoogerbrug says the pyrotechnics were as a result of oil igniting on a hot exhaust.

She says the back of the boat started lifting up off the water, which prevents the driver from being able to turn efficiently.

"We just kept going straight ahead and hit the island - we barrel-rolled, somersaulted end-on-end." says Ms Hoogerbrug.

The episode only lasted 2.5 seconds, but she says it felt a lot longer.

"Because we're going so fast, and we're used to going so fast, a second doesn't feel like a second. It actually feels a lot longer when you're in the boat because your adrenalin is pumping so much."

Safety teams rushed to the pair's aid, and they were taken to hospital for checks.

"My biggest thing going through my head at the time was 'there goes the world championship title'.

"All of our friends are going 'stuff the title! Stuff the boat!'."

Jetsprinting is part of Mr Briant's DNA -- his father, Peter Briant, is a multiple world superboat champion, and his uncle, Rex Briant is also a world champ.

It's only Ms Hoogerbrug's second season, but both have their eyes set on retaining their top-of-the-table New Zealand position.

They're hoping to have their boat up and running again for racing in New Plymouth at the end of this month.

"Blake got in his ute first thing yesterday morning and drove to Foxton to pick up a new hull, which is built by Stinger Sprint Boats.

"He also had his engine on the back and he drove to Tauranga last night, and dropped the engine off to his builder, Brian Kelly from Performance Autos, and he's checking over it," says Ms Hoogerbrug.

The pair is now looking to secure long-term sponsors.

And Ms Hoogerbrug isn't letting the two unfortunate events put off the couple's racing future.

"There's a perception that this sport is really dangerous when you have a crash, but I'd say that I'm safer getting in that boat than I am driving into work every morning."

Video courtesy of Speedmagnet