Mistress set to break the shackles in Superclass return

The Mistress crew Leo Welch, Jamie Oliver, Zac Welch and Brad Osmotherly. Photo Steve Huntley Photo by steve Huntley.

The shackles have come off The Mistress.

Up into Superclass after taking out the 2020 unlimited inboard category by 21 seconds — and finishing third outright — the 2016 winners of the 80 now have a heightened speed cap on par with its seven other competitors in the category.

The crew will be right in the running for the first Southern 80 in two years.

“You’ve got to remember we were in Unlimited Inboard and we were speed-capped,” observer Leo Welch said.

“This year we’re in Superclass, so we’re running exactly the same cap as those boats.

“We’re on an even playing field, which we’re really excited about it.”

With Zac Welch at the wheel, Leo Welch the observer, and the duo of Brad Osmotherly and Jamie Oliver skiing behind, Mistress has assembled an experienced crew for the 80.

Between the four, they boast eight wins in the biggest ski race in the southern hemisphere.

“We’ve got a really good crew going this year,” Welch said.

“Obviously Zac drives really well and he’s in really peak form.

“We’ve got a bit of experience; Jamie’s won it four times, I’ve won it three and Zac’s won it once. Brad’s pretty hungry for success.”

For Welch and Oliver, they’ll be hoping for another successful pairing.

The duo were Southern 80 winners with Island Cooler in 1989 and 1990, with Welch the observer and Oliver skiing behind with legend Dennis Rowbottom at the wheel.

Oliver has stepped in for skier Lachlan Op De Coul, who was injured at the start of the season, and Welch praised the experience of his old ski mate.

“That’s how long ago we go back together,” Welch said.

“A lot of skiers in this race wouldn’t have been born when we won it back-to back-with Island Cooler.

“Lachy was injured at the first points score and basically he’s been out for the season. That’s why Jamie subbed in for us, and he’s done a fantastic job.

“The Southern 80’s fast, but it’s a lot of corners, and Jamie’s a very good cornerer.”

The Mistress is set to be a top contender, and Welch knows what it takes to conquer this leg of the Murray River.

“We’re going to have a fair crack at it,” Welch said.

“There are some really good crews in the race as always.

“It takes not just ability but a fair bit of luck as well to win the 80 just through the nature of the race, the nature of the course, mechanical stuff.

“The course is good. It’s low but it’s more than race-able. You just have to race to the conditions at the end of the day.”