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VIDEO: 14 amphibious boats battle it out in Sealegs race

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The annual Sealegs race has seen 14 amphibious boats race across sand and surf on Waiheke Island in New Zealand

From bungee jumping to white water rafting, New Zealand is the spiritual home of many extreme sports, but the antipodean nation has now come up with our favourite sport of the lot – amphibious boat racing.

Hosted every February on Waiheke Island, the Sealegs race sees amphibious vessels go head-to-head across Onetangi beach and into the surf.

This year’s event on February 22 featured a field of 14 amphibious boats, but before they could set off, the skippers had to be tagged in by their runner who starts the race by sprinting up the beach, adding a Le Mans-style sense of drama to proceedings.

Once the Sealegs’ Honda-powered beach crawler system has sprung into life, the two-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive vessels make their way down to the waters edge at a modest top speed of 6mph.

However, when the Evinrude outboard engine hits the water, the real action starts, with boats leaping into the surf like excited salmon. Salmon capable of 43 knots, that is.

Once they’re past the second buoy, the boats make their way back to the shore for another crawl along the beach, followed by a second hair-raising lap of the course.

This year’s Sealegs race was won by multiple champion Simon Harding, with Waiheke Island resident Scott Unsworth taking second place.

But judging by the smiles on the faces of the all competitors in the video above, it seems like even the losers had a great time just messing about in amphibious boats.

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