Cuba Dupa 2017

On March 25, 2017, a splendid group of Steampunkers (collective noun yet to be settled upon) assembled at Cuba Dupa in Dixon St, Wellington, to Splendidly Race Teapots (STR). The race occurred after a very spectacular and noisy parade from Ghuznee St down Cuba Mall to the racing arena. This marvellous Steampunk event was organised by the awesome members of Capital! Steam and extra race track pieces were purloined from Steampunk Taranaki.

The combined obstacles resulted in the nose hair withering double Ramp of Doom making its first appearance, yes, you heard it correctly the DOUBLE Ramp of Doom (DRoD). The DRoD was a darsedly and devious adaptation to the wacky races and caused a considerable amount of consternation (especially in the middle bit).


Making its first grand appearance was Capital! Steams Victoria’s Bells a stunning little number made by the talented Martyn and succeeded in snagging a few rigs – the ones that attempted U-turns.  Making a significant impression on the Captain and I was, Steampunk Taranaki’s wibbly wobbly bridge with the additional reminder of danger,  a Monty Pythonesque skeleton at the base. So enamoured with the potential of this obstacle, that, the Captain and I are in serious negotiations to recreate this for Oamaru.


There are some standout honourable mentions of peculiar antics in a spectacular day of fun and frivolity, notably the spectators who enjoyed all the usual thrills and spills of STR.  An estimated 1000 people of the 100,000 strong crowd stopped and viewed the racing, we very much congested the street.


Professor Phoenicea Carwardine and I enjoyed first-rate bribery which was again of a superb standard.  The Steam Mahouts did themselves proudly and provided the very best Royal Darjeeling sweet tea and sweets.  There were lashings of chocolate, quince pears and assorted shiny bits, all very much appreciated.  Some bribes were essential, especially to cover up such unexpected events such as heads rolling off…..

JC Hortense
Hortense St George – who lost her head! ( the tea pot not the driver) – photo credit Jane Craven 

The stand out contraption of the day, complete with mini me was, of course, Kat Douglas’ Splendid mobility device, the Katmobile.  While the Katmobile (the larger) disgraced its self in an attempt to manoeuvre on the course, the mini-me clone did not.  In the skilled hands of Neave R Willoughby, mini-me performed quite satisfactorily.

Neave Willoughby in the Katmobile, attempting the course while the judges were not looking! Photo credit – Jane Craven 

The good Colonel Hawthorne driving the Snark Cooker took some obstacles with him for a small drive. The professor and I were momentarily worried that this would result in a disqualification for breaching height restrictions but breathed a collective sigh of relief as the “Snark” unhooked itself and emerged unscathed.

The valiant Captain Various also rearranged the Chasm of Death on the course, but as co-inventor of STR, we thought he could take liberties. However  Snoopy didn’t like the wibbly wobbly bridge.

Special mention to the splendid efforts of our younger drivers who totally embodied the spirit of Splendid Teapot Racing – Huzzah!


The SuccessfulCandidates 2017

(VOUCHER Clockwork Steampunk Emporium) Most entertaining: Spencer – Driver: Prof. Joules Ampere, Steampunk Taranaki

(VOUCHER Clockwork Steampunk Emporium)  Best racing round: Ateapotosaurus traxas wellingtonia – Driver: Lord Edmund, Wellington

Most splendid: Pavel Peacock – Driver: Lady Watsonia Victorious! Ohms, Steampunk Taranaki

Most splendid teapot: Elliot-Hawthorne Snark-Cooker – Driver: Colonel Hawthorne, Capital! Steampunk

Best Bribes: Royal Darjeeling Express – Driver: Steam Mahouts, Capital! Steampunk

Best driver: Hank the Tankpot – Driver: Lord Theadore Rupert Beardaton, Steampunk Taranaki

Best under 20: Ulster Fusion – Driver: Colonial Boy, Wellington

Best Themed Teapot: Mini Pot – Driver: Neave R. Willoughby, Steampunk Christchurch

Colonel’s Award for Splendidness:

Orion, Greytown

Colonel’s Award for Teapot Sheepdog Trials: Lord Edmund, Wellington


All in all a splendid day. Thank you


The power of Judging

One of the benefits of being co-inventor, is that I usually judge – I am useless at driving these things any way. Once the bribes are sorted and I am happy we start the event.  Each teapot races individually except for the drag race (another blog to describe the drag race) against the clock – you have 3 minutes. The fastest rig thus far has been Stanley from Wellington at a very subsonic 43 seconds (More about Stanley soon).

Oh the power of that flag!
Oh the power of that flag!

I have 2 flags,  a yellow for penalty and red for disqualification, it is my practice to have a chat to the audience before racing and get the audience participation OOOHHs and AHHHHs working on cue to the flag waving from me or the line out judge.

The boundaries  of the course needs to be about 2.5 meters by 10 – 15 meters if you have a nice flat space. If you don’t have that space you change the course layout to suit the space, we have not really ever had the same space twice and we just adapt the obstacles placement to the space. We try  and have about a meter between individual jumps, ramps and the china – each of the china figures are about 600 apart.

this was a tricky course as it was on a stage, but it was great for the audience to view

We put tape arrows down for people so they don’t get directionally challenged but it really doesn’t matter in what order things occur just that they are completed and then out through the finish posts to stop the timing.

We have been assigning our penalties thus:

1) If you go out over the boundary line – partially, it is a penally – wave yellow flag – audience participation and tick  in the score card box.

2) If you go fully out of the boundary we have been disqualifying – wave red flag -audience participation and tick  in the score card box. –   a non finish in on the scorecard. This rule can be varied depending on the amount of entries  if you have a lot -stick to it or you will be there all night and the audience will get jaded. If you don’t have many racers treat it as a penalty. The helpful hint – have small assorted children and audience sitting close to the line and they will act as a natural bumper!

assorted small children
assorted small children keeping the boundary

3) Manual assists – if any person has to manually assist the rig in ANY manner – hand, foot , walking stick, ray gun etc it is a penalty – wave yellow flag – audience participation and tick  in the score card box.


Judging Splendidness.

Part of the whole deal is to include participation as part of the criteria. Is the driver well turned out? How splendid is the rig? Does it meet the size restrictions? Have they organised a preformance? Did they give a bribe? Did they vex the judge? Did they demonstrate  the aims of Splendid Teapot Racing; teamwork, participation, fun? This is a very good category for families or persons with a disability.

Extra points and comments can also be awarded for crazy driving antics eg somersaults, pirouettes, spectacular fails etc.

Score Card: I have adapted a score card over the last year to reflect all these things and it works fairly well but again it is a guideline.

score card