IT’S BACK, like it never left.
It’s been a while since Stinga graced us at the Southern 80, but the team is back and ready to make a big impact.
That doesn’t mean the machine is without form on the Murray.
In 2007, Stinga took the overall race.
The course may have been shortened, but that victory will forever be in the books.
In 2013, it set the unlimited inboard expert record with a strong time of 31:43.32.
And twice — in 2003 and 2004 — Stinga took the Bakers Blitz.
‘‘It’s great to be back,’’ skier Ray Ball said.
‘‘We’ve always been a big fan of the race, so it will certainly be nice to be back there and we hope we are at the pointy end of the race.’’
Greg Houston will be at the wheel, with Danny Cropper in the observer’s chair.
‘‘Unfortunately, it has been a little bit hit and miss in that department for us over the past few years with skiers and observers,’’ Ball said. ‘‘But this year, we have finally been able to keep the same team together for the full season and that makes a huge difference in terms of getting your consistency right.’’
There will be some incredible talent behind the boat as well.
Ball will be joined by Cameron Osborne, who is the world champion in the F2 class.
‘‘It’s great having someone of this kind of talent behind the boat with you, it definitely lifts you and makes you a better skier,’’ he said.
Part of the appeal of returning to the Southern 80 was the calibre of competition entered in superclass.
‘‘I think its hard to look past Merc Force for the standout after what they produced last year. They put together a fantastic event and were worthy winners,’’ Ball said.
‘‘But it’s not just them. Mistress is always someone you can rely on to put on a good race. Boats like Sapphire and Pigs Arsenal are never out of it either. Even outside of superclass you have great quality boats like Arkham Asylum who showed us what they were capable of during the Beehag. ‘‘The calibre of competitors is just outstanding.’’
Now Stinga is producing well on the water, there is no reason to believe it isn’t a real chance at taking the win.
‘‘That’s why we are always hopeful of getting a victory,’’ Ball said.
‘‘If we ski the race at our absolute best, and the boat runs well, we are in with a real chance.’’