Named after a legendary American outlaw, the veteran offshore
powerboat Jesse James is taking time out from the New Zealand
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
Tebbs re-powered Jesse James in 1989, installing two Buick
372 cu.in. 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