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Chris Du Feu


Chris Du Feu Panther Boat

The Panther Roars: The Powerboating Tales of Chris Du Feu

Nelson is home to many local heroes who, in their unique ways, contribute to the essence of our community. One such local champion, fuelled by speed, precision, and sheer willpower, is Chris Du Feu. Chris, the man behind the wheel of “The Panther”, has been making waves (quite literally) in the New Zealand F1 Powerboat Tour.

Having led CJ Fabrication Limited for two decades, Chris is no stranger to the world of metalwork. From crafting intricate balustrades and hand railings to working on aluminium boats and contributing to the pharmaceutical sector with his stainless steel prowess, his hands have crafted marvels. However, it’s the water that truly calls out to him.

The Panther’s Legacy

This love for racing isn’t newfound. Chris recalls the glory days when his father raced in the 80s and 90s, a time when he was deeply entrenched in the sport. But as life would have it, family responsibilities beckoned, leading him to take a break to ensure ends met.

However, the call of the wild waters proved too hard to resist. A nod to his father’s boat, “The Pink Panther”, Chris continued the legacy and named his boat “The Panther”. It’s a Formula One Tunnel Boat – the fastest outboard class in the world. “It’s the equivalent of a Formula One race car,” Chris says.

Over the past decade, Chris has consistently marked his presence on the podium. “I’ve been New Zealand Champion in the past, and usually finish in the top three,” he remarks. He also eyes setting a class speed record this year, hoping to add another feather to his cap.

For Chris, racing isn’t just about the thrill, it’s about the precision, the skill, and the sheer will to push boundaries. With the Panther clocking up to 142 mph (approx 230km per hour for those who are counting), and usually hovering around 120 mph during races, the adrenaline is palpable. But it’s not just about the speed. Chris explains, “You sit in the front of the boat, strapped in, feeling G-forces similar to banking a high-speed fighter jet, but on water.”

His journey in powerboating has been illustrious, with several accolades in various classes. From placing consistently in the pinnacle F1 class to dominating the F2 and F3 series, Chris has done it all. His dedication to the sport is further evidenced by his involvement at the organisational level, transitioning from the President of the local Nelson club to an overarching role as the President of New Zealand for the sport.

Chris has started to shift his focus from just racing to giving back. At 53, with numerous accolades under his belt, he feels it’s time to invest in the future of the sport. “You’ve gotta give back at some stage, don’t you?” he muses.

Paul from Absolute Energy and Chris share more than just a passion for sports. Their camaraderie spans over three decades, rooted in their involvement with the Richmond Football Club. Their bond has grown stronger, with Absolute Energy stepping in to support Chris, aiding with season expenses. In gratitude, Chris ensures that Absolute Energy is prominently showcased, be it on his boat, shirts, or promotional gear.

As the new season beckons, Chris Du Feu is all geared up, not just to race but to create a legacy, with the roaring Panther by his side, we can’t wait to see what he achieves in the coming season!

Chris Du Feu Ready to Race
Memories of the Pink Panther Racing Boat
Tunnel Hull Formula One Racing Series