Southern 80

Top five boats in place ahead of tomorrow’s 80

By Vivienne Duck

TR has taken out the Bakers Blitz and The Mistress has won the President’s Dash / Tim Driver Memorial during a challenging Saturday afternoon session of the 50th Southern 80 water skiing classic on the Murray River.

Racing over the windswept short course from Moama 5 mile boat ramp back to the finish line at Vic Park in Echuca, TR clocked 6mins 44.48secs to edge fellow superclass boat Arkham Asylum (6:50.56) by six seconds.

The Mistress, coming from 11th on the grid, stormed to victory in the President’s Dash in 6:55.91 – the third quickest time of the day.

The third superclass entry, Pigs Arsenal, predicted by many as the favourite for the Bakers Blitz and the big race on Sunday, dropped a skier within a bend of the finish line and failed to complete the course.

Earlier, Superman, one of the best credentialed superclass boats in the country, was a late withdrawal from the weekend’s racing.

TR driver Ian Tricker last won the Southern 80 in 1999 behind the wheel of Showdown and was noticeably emotional after today’s winning drive, paying tribute to the way his skiers Reece Simmonds and Raymond Ball, and observer Nathan Miller, handled the windy conditions.

“This race (today) is like, man, it’s the hardest thing a driver is ever going to do,” a humble Tricker said.

“(I felt like) I had a different boat, with the wind. Anyone who drove out there and got their team home in one piece under seven minutes today is an absolute champion.

“It was tough. Each straight was different. It was smooth one minute and the next straight there was an 18 inch chop.

“My boy’s, wow, they compensated what I considered to be a pretty average drive by me.”

Tricker said the key to victory on Sunday would be man management.

“You’ve got to manage the skiers,” Tricker said.

“We’ve got a plan. You’ve got to watch your split times, you’ve got to know how hard to go. It’s just nice to be able to come home with a good solid run.

“It’s been 20 years since I won this race and you don’t just come here and win it. You have to build into it and I’ve been building back into this for three years.

“I’ve got a good boat, I’ve got a good team. You need a bit of luck and we’ll see what happens. There’s a few other good guys here and they’re right up my clacker.

“Anything can happen and usually does. They’ve got to take my lines now, they mightn’t like that.”

The performance of The Mistress, with Zach Welch driving alongside his legendary father Leo, who was one of the six inductees into the inaugural Southern 80 Hall of Fame last night, was brilliant.

Skiers Wade Stratton and Daniel Cotton overcame plenty of rough water to win the prestigious President’s Dash / Tim Driver Memorial trophy from Stinga 21S and Temper 2, the latter pair less than four seconds behind the class winner, but only 11/1000’s of a second apart from each other.

In a twist of fate ahead of Sunday’s race, Cotton’s first and only win in the great event was skiing behind Tricker in 1999. Now the pair will go head to head for a second title two decades on.

Meanwhile, the Welch duo are previous winners of the Southern 80 too, Leo driving The Mistress to victory in 2016 with Zach as one of the skiers. The elder Welch also previously won the event as an observer with Island Cooler in 1989 and 1990.

Welch senior, who echoed Tricker’s sentiments about the difficult conditions, describing the day’s racing as “the toughest dash I’ve seen in Echuca”, was confident his boat could contend again.

“We’ll challenge them (TR and Arkham Asylum), don’t worry about that,” Welch said.

“We’ve got a game plan. We ran to a game plan today, so would they, but at the end of the day it’s a ski race and you have to get your skiers home. A couple didn’t today.

“Better conditions tomorrow and it should be on like Donkey-Kong.”

In other classes during the afternoon action:

  • ILLUSIONS Racing was fastest in the veteran’s over 40, clocking 7:57.20
  • Boystress claimed the senior social 30-39 in 8:55.72. The same boat took out the U14 social earlier in the day

Tomorrow’s main event gets underway from Torrumbarry at 8.30am with super social, juniors, sub juniors 70 & 60mph classes, before TR leads off the superclass and the other contenders at 1230pm.

*Results are still provisional

- Ski Racing Australia.

EARLIER: The top five boats after the Bakers Blitz and Presidents Dash look to be confirmed with TR leading the field. 

1. TR: 06:44.4
2. Arkham Asylum: 06:50.5
3. The Mistress: 06:55.9
4. The Stinga 21S: 06:59.5
5. Temper 2: 06:59.6

2.20pm: In the end it was only a two boat race in the Bakers Blitz this afternoon.

TR took out the race beating Arkham Asylum after Pigs Arsenal dropped a skier to drop out of contention.

The Mistress, who was ineligible for superclass this year, is currently sitting third in unofficial times.

Full times are still unconfirmed with the Presidents Dash still underway.

1.25pm: Moama local Sportspage is out of this afternoon's racing.

It is believed engine issues are to blame.

1pm:

The 2019 Southern 80 got underway this morning with 14 classes racing over the short course from Moama 5 mile boat ramp.

Leading the way as the fastest finisher of the 132 boats in action was Monopoly with skier Alex Handley, driver Matthew Sadler and observer Sam Handley posting a time of 8 min 18.37 secs to win the disabled category.

Alex Handley has dominated the class over the years and is the record holder for the disabled class at 7:48 set behind Temper in 2015.

Second best of the morning was Bad Temper with skiers Jason Jones and Darryn Williams getting the job done for driver Michael Jones and observer Shaun Williams.

Racing in the unlimited inboard social class, the quartet combined to clock 8:24.2 to finish 3.3 seconds ahead of the third quickest boat – Public Enemies, who took out the stock 6L social class with Glenn Rowlands at the wheel for observer Andrew Morgan and skiers Max Rowlands and Mason Vaughan.

For Public Enemies it was a stellar performance, the Whittlsea based boat smashing the class record, set last year by Hollowpoint, by more than 15 seconds.

Fourth fastest of the morning, a mere 0.4 seconds adrift of Public Enemies, was the winner of the 5.2 & 6L social category, Synthetic, with skiers Craig Nicholls and Brock Henderson behind driver Stuart Evans and observer Neale Torpey.

The open women’s social category teams were racing for the Dawn Rowbottom Memorial trophy and the event was taken out by Esky Mojo, with the team of Greg Toole (driver), Bryson Toole (observer) and skiers Lesley Toole and Tayla Stent recording a time of 10:05.59.

Esky Mojo finished 19.5 seconds ahead of PegLeg, with In Pursuit 2 another 48 seconds further back.

The 60mph social class produced the closest finish of the day with Uncontrolabel beating home Lucifer by a hair – or 0.187 seconds – to take the win. The category also featured the event’s oldest competitor, 71-year-old John McKenzie, who drove Run Again.

In other classes:

  • Still No Dramas took out the SMOC social
  • the unlimited outboard social was won by Showbiz
  • No Bull F21 won the U16 social
  • Boystress claimed the U14 social
  • Hedake came out on top in the U12 social
  • Migraine edged out Obsession by a mere two seconds in the 70mph social
  • the U10 boy’s went to Team 26
  • the U10 girl’s was taken out by Time N Money

The Saturday afternoon session begins at 2pm AEDT and will feature 67 boats in the Bakers Blitz and President’s Dash ahead of tomorrow’s main event that gets underway from Torrumbarry at 8.30am.

*Results are still provisional

12.30pm: Motorists are being urged to avoid High Street Echuca with the CBD gridlocked after this morning's Southern 80 racing session.

Cars are bumper to bumper with High Street the only way in and out of the Vic Park Finish Line due to the Warren Street closure.

Hare St is still closed due to the static display which is due to finish at 1pm.

UPDATE 11.20AM: Today's windy conditions are causing havoc on the river.
Sid Vicious racing driver Peter Hilet said the water is "pretty choppy and boats are struggling to hit full speed".

Only a handful of category records have been broken with most classes a few seconds off best times with no teams having their best race times.

UPDATE: Unofficial times keep coming in from this morning's session.

10.58am: Racing has resumed after a short delay due to some non-starts with about 17 more boats to go in the morning session.


10.45: One of the skiers behind The Curse has come off 50m after the start line. 

The boat was pulled off to the side of the river and officials are attending the scene.

It is believed the skier is uninjured.

More to come.

Unofficial times are rolling in with the Southern 80 official twitter account posting these times.

9.10am: We begin this morning with news Superman is officially out of the race due to a birth in a team members family.

9am: The first boat away this morning is also out of the race.

TR was the first to take the water on the first day of racing but a skier couldn't stick the landing and the team is now out.

8.45am: Today's Southern 80 events kick off at 9am with the static display on Hare Street from 9am to 1pm.

Gates are open at the Vic Park Finish Line with racing to also start at 9am.

Today's racing kicks off at five mile boat ramp with unlimited inboard social through to the under 10 tadpoles.

The one to watch today is the Bakers Blitz and the Presidents Dash which will determine the starting position for Sunday racing. The first boat is away at 2pm.

This is followed by veterans and senior social.

Presentation will take place approximately 5.30pm.

8.36am: Police will be out in force across Echuca-Moama all weekend as racing is due to kick off at 9am.
 
Police will be taking a zero tolerance towards drunken or anti-social behaviour. 
 
The Murray river will be closed to the public during race times from 6am-7pm to ensure safety for both competitors and spectators. 

Spectators are reminded not to enter the water at all during racing.
 
Southern 80 organisers are warning tourists to be aware of the current closure of Warren Street in Echuca due to ongoing works on the new Echuca-Moama bridge.
 
The road closure prevents direct access from High Street Echuca to the Murray Valley Highway via Warren Street. 
 
The route from Torrumbarry to the Vic Park Finish Line in Echuca now involves a detour via High Street and Ogilvie Avenue, which means travel times between Torrumbarry and the Finish Line will take longer and there will be more congestion.