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Shotover Jet drivers “thrilled and proud” with career-highlight Royal trip

Shotover Jet drivers “thrilled and proud” with career-highlight Royal trip

The two Shotover Jet drivers chosen to drive the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the rest of the Royal party today (April 13) said they were thrilled to have been part of the big day and described it as “a career highlight”.

 
Shotover Jet operations manager Wayne Paton, 43, and head boat driver Nick Simpson, 39, were handpicked for the role thanks to their dedication to jet boating, extensive industry knowledge and the sheer number of hours spent on the water with passengers.
 
Wayne, originally from Christchurch, and Nick from mid-Canterbury, have worked for Shotover Jet for 13 and ten years respectively. 
 
While both admitted to being “a few butterflies” on the day, Wayne took the wheel of the boat containing the Duke and Duchess, while Nick followed close behind with other members of the Royal party.
 
“When we step in that boat we’re responsible for everyone on board, but we know what we’re doing out there,” said Wayne.
 
“I’ve done over 10,000 trips and I’m in charge of all driver training and assessments, so while these are obviously the most high-profile people we’ve ever had on board, at the end of the day they’re customers looking for an amazing adrenalin experience and we treated them just like that.”
 
Wayne said he talked to the Duke and Duchess and others on the boat about how jet boating was invented by a New Zealander, the river’s gold history and pointed out landmarks such as Coronet Peak along the way.
 
“Yes there were some nerves but I feel safer driving the boat than I do driving my car home, because it’s what we do as a job.”
 
He said he’d been surprised by sight of thousands of people lining the Shotover River en route. It’s the most I’ve ever seen. 
 
“The Duke was “right into the trip. He even asked me a couple of times to go closer to the canyon walls,” he said.
 
“They had a blast, so that’s my job well done.”
 
Nick, who has driven nearly 13,000 trips on the Shotover River, said the day had started as every other one did, with the drivers and mechanics going over each boat in painstaking detail.
 
“Maintenance is second-to-none in our world, and that’s why Shotover Jet is so proactive in our maintenance programmes and driver training.
 
“Yes, we operate in an amazing and fun environment, but its safety first and fun second, that can’t be emphasised enough.
 
“We’ve got 100% trust in our boats and as far as being on the river, as drivers it’s our ‘happy place’.
 
“Out of all the VIPs we’ve taken down the river over the years, it would be hard to top taking these young members of the Royal family.”
END