Mysterious crash puts an end to a champion's career

Invercargill’s Garry Sexton and his son Shane in Pure Insanity on his way to setting the fastest time in the Gore Boat Clubs annual time trials on Lake Te Anau
Champion racer Garry Sexton of Invercargill was involved in a mysterious high-speed crash while driving Pure Insanity in the annual Milton Boat Club Marathon. Sexton now says that he will never race again.

On Saturday, the craft barrel-rolled on the lake throwing Sexton and his passenger Lyn Burnett, also of Invercargill, from the boat. Ms Burnett, a hairdresser, remains in an induced coma in Dunedin Hospital.

Mr Sexton, 47, who has a cracked rib and shoulder blade, arrived home yesterday, and said he was in a lot of pain. 'My concern is now for Lyn and her family,' he said. Mr Sexton, a South Island C Class champion, said he did not know what caused the crash. 'I am still figuring it out, going over and over it in my mind,' he said. 'I checked the boat so many times – it was perfect so the only thing I can think it might be was something in the water.'

'I don't understand. The water was calm and I was in complete control and then for no reason the boat veered to the right and we were thrown out,' Mr Sexton said. 'I am pedantic about safety and Pure Insanity had passed a check along with the competing boats before the race.'

He has vowed not to race again because of the accident. 'I won't boat race ever again. I have a family and it's too much of a risk ... the scariest part is that I just don't know what happened. It would be a bit easier if I could understand. 'It was a very scary moment ... I think it's life changing,' Mr Sexton said.

'This accident was a really unusual thing to happen. I've been racing for 20 years and never had an accident. This (Lake Waihola) was one of the calmest waters for racing.'

Mr Sexton will return to Dunedin Hospital on Friday for a checkup and to visit Ms Burnett, who has suffered broken ribs and chest and shoulder injuries and was put into a coma to help manage her pain.

Mr Sexton's brother Paul, who was also racing at the event, said it was unknown what caused Pure Insanity to roll but it was possible the boat was caught in the wake of another boat, or had experienced mechanical problems.

The race convener and New Zealand Boat Marathon Commission are likely to prepare a report for Maritime New Zealand on the accident.