Agitator recalls experienced eyes from 30-year hiatus

On the go: Agitator in the President’s Dash. Photo by Cath Grey

Agitator observer Steve Hurrey hasn’t graced the Southern 80 as a competitor since 1989, but the long hiatus hasn’t dulled his perception of the race’s prestige.

Hurrey joins Queensland driver Chris Afoo and skiers Ross Harris (Echuca) and Riley Arnold (Kangaroo Flat) for this year’s race, his first time back in the 80 since observing for Expert Under-16 boat Torquer.

“(The Southern 80) is like the Bathurst of water ski racing — everyone wants to win it,” Hurrey said.

“I used to do point scores, VSTC trials, Southern 80, Mildura, all those river races as a skier.

“I got injured and I started observing, then I got out of it for a bit.”

Hurrey has been involved in two Southern 80s, firstly in 1986 with 6L boat Dizeaze as a skier before returning three years later for the 1989 race.

By his own admission, Hurrey, from Echuca Village, hasn’t had a blessed run at the event.

“Our boat exploded in one of them,” Hurrey said.

“The engine exploded and tore the bottom out of the boat, and the boat sunk.

“The Southern 80 hasn’t been that kind to me; boats have broken down, we’ve had falls, all of it.

“It’s very tough on skiers; roughly 122 bends, and you’re going fast and then slow, and you get that whip going around corners.”

But it hasn’t dented Hurrey’s desire to have another crack, and he’s confident Agitator will be a strong runner when it launches at 2.48pm on Saturday for the President’s Dash.

“We did Wentworth, Robinvale and Mildura, but this is the one we’ve been aiming for,” Hurrey said.

“We probably didn’t go as well as we wanted to (at some events this season) and we broke down at Robinvale.

“But the motor’s strong. We had a couple of issues with leaking rocket cover gaskets but they’re all fixed now.”

Hurrey is expecting calm waters in the colder May weather and with an experienced crew at its back, Agitator will be one to watch during the weekend.