Jesse James
2005 NZ Offshore National Open Class Champion
Racing Class  National Open Racing Number Retired
Association New Zealand Offshore Powerboat Association
Boat Owner Wayne & Grant Valder Contact Details  
Driver Wayne Valder Contact Details  
Co-driver Grant Valder Contact Details  

Profile / Status

Named after a legendary American outlaw, the veteran offshore powerboat Jesse James is taking time out from the New Zealand racing scene.

The 30ft (9m) racer is more than 23 years old and has been put in mothballs by current owners Wayne and Grant Valder.

Built by Chris Craft in the United States for brothers Mark and Chris Lavin the boat was the result of more than $100,000 in research and development by Chris Craft and Mercury Marine.

Well-heeled property developers from Wilton Connecticut the Lavins loved all things associated with the old American "Wild West" including the "Outlaws" of this era. Mark was passionate about the 'mystique' of the outlaws and hence the name for the boat evolved.
Unfortunately Mark was killed in an accident while racing the 'Conquest Jesse James 2'

The catamaran is built of GRP over a balsa wood core. The original power plants were two Chevrolet 350 cu in V8s through Mercruiser No.4 stern drives. Launched in 1983 she won the American Offshore series in 1984 and 85, setting a world record of 101.3 mph along the way.

The Lavin's chose the name to honour Missouri state's most infamous citizen, born there in September 1847 and shot dead for the $10,000 reward money put on his head on April 3, 1882. The shooters were a pair of brothers Jesse James had recruited to help him rob yet another bank.

Ross Tebbs bought the total Jesse James rig, boat, trailer and tow vehicle. His aim was to contest the Class 2 World Offshore Powerboat Championships being raced here in 1985, which it won with ease.

Tebbs re-powered Jesse James in 1989, installing two Buick 372 aluminium block motors giving 650hp each. He also lightened the boat and fitted Harvard Engine Intakes.

Mothballed for 7 years - along came Aucklanders Wayne and Grant Valder. They didn't want to re-name her and were keen to keep the truck, trailer and boat in the original livery created for the Lavins.

That was in June 2003. Since then the Valders retained the Buick motors but undertook what they call a "major freshening up exercise" to prepare Jesse James for the 2004 series.

Chief mechanic Mark Ross made subtle improvements since 2004 and resolved a number of niggling problems, which gave Jesse James a Second overall placing (after a failed protest result) in the 2005 championship.

Jesse James was given a major restyle for 2006, "The addition of a centre cockpit and moveable engine mounts to the boat plus a new tow vehicle" put the rig up front with the best like "Sleepyhead" and "Placemakers".

JESSE JAMES Achievements include:
1984 & 1985 - USA National Champion
1984 - World Speed Record holder 101.3 Mph
1985 - World Champion in Class 2
1988 & 1991 - NZ Champion

Wayne & Grant in Jesse James won the 2005 NZ Offshore Championship for National Open Class.
Wayne & Grant ran Mercury Racing Propellers serviced by Dunnrite.

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Offshore Racing Boat, Jesse James, Grant Valder, Wayne Valder, Mark Lavin, Chris Lavin, Ross Tebbs.