1998 CLUB MARINE SOUTHERN 80 – Media release after the event.
One of the strongest Super Class line-ups in Southern 80 history had been assembled for the 1998 Club Marine Southern 80, and big things were expected from both the participants and the spectators.
Last year’s winner, Argo, was returning to defend their title, but strong opposition was expected from boats like God’s Gift, Thundernuts, Showdown, Mirage, Top Shot, Rampage and Moonshot.
Saturday’s Bakers Blitz was sure to separate the pretenders from the contenders, with Argo being the first boat away. However, turbo problems made the team late for the start, and they missed the blitz altogether; a major blow for their hopes of back-to-back victories.
Lester Freemantle’s Moonshot, which was to start in second place, accidentally took off in first place, recording a blistering time of 7.06. However, upon completing the event, the team was given a one minute penalty, bumping them from first place down to eighth.
That allowed the God’s Gift team to secure first place in the Blitz, with the twin-turbocharged 21 foot Stephen’s boat completing the course in 7.08. Driver Graham Ritchie was only five seconds outside his previous record set back in 1995, whilst skiers Jamie Oliver and Stephen Robertson were hoping to emulate the team’s 95 successes.
Second place went to the Showdown team, with driver Ian Tricker and observer Steve Cotton towing skiers Daniel Cotton and Danny Cropper down the course in a time of 7.11. Third place went to Sniper, the twin-turbocharged Racecraft towing local skier Anthony ‘Bull’ Reid and Tim Driver past the Victoria Park boat ramp in 7.16.
One second behind Sniper was Thundernuts, in 7.17, followed by the twin-turbocharged 20 foot Everingham, The Thing in 7.18, and then came another two Mercury twin-rigs, Rampage in 7.22 and Cyclone Racing 2 in 7.44.
Mirage looked like setting the fastest time in the Blitz until they encountered difficulties, retiring from the event. The Axe and Supershot were others who failed to finish the 20 km dash, whilst Top Shot was disqualified.
Perfect weather greeted the thousands of spectators lining the Murray River on Sunday, and the day promised to be even more exciting than Saturday’s racing. Having done it all back in 1995, God’s Gift was looking to repeat the dose, but there were plenty of others in the field who considered themselves possible winners of the 1998 event.
God’s Gift, owned and driven by Graham Ritchie, with observer and engine builder Stewie Thomas looking out for their two gun skiers, Jamie Oliver and Stephen Robertson, scorched down the 82 kilometre course to set a record shattering time of 32 minutes and 2 seconds.
The beautiful 21 foot Stephens, powered by a fuel injected, twin-turbocharged big block Rodeck, smashed Gotta be Crazy’s 1996 race record by 21 seconds. For their efforts, the God’s Gift team received the American Hotel Record Breakers cheque, which had accumulated to $3000 since Gotta be Crazy last broke the record.
Next down the river was Showdown, with Ian Tricker pushing the boat to the limit all throughout the 129 bends that make up the course. The twin-rig finished in a time of 32.42, forty seconds off God’s Gift time but still good enough to place second outright. Owner and observer, Steve Cotton, did a great job watching out for his son, Daniel Cotton, and co-skier, Danny Cropper.
Coming home in third outright was the beautiful 21 foot Bullet twin-rig, Rampage. Owner Greg Campbell lent the boat to former Warlord owner / driver Steve Thompson, who drove down the river in 32 minutes and 48 seconds, only six seconds behind Showdown. Gun New South Wales skiers Paul Robertson and Dean Hanckel teamed up together, with Tim Campbell watching them from the observers seat.
Fourth outright, in a time of 33.24, was the Supershot team, towing two of the best female skiers in the world, Leanne Brown and Joanne Hamilton. After retiring in Saturday’s Bakers Blitz, the team had to start from position seventeen, but owner / driver Reg Astill had no troubles guiding the twin-turbocharged 21 foot Racecraft down the 80 km. course.
Another 21 foot Racecraft with twin-turbo’s came home for fifth outright, and that was defending champion Argo. They were relegated back to fourteenth position for Sunday’s big race after their Bakers’ Blitz dilemma’s, but skiers Adam Kaal and Gavin Ohlback put in a great effort to finish in a time of 33.35.
Back in sixth outright was another twin-rig, Cyclone Racing 2. They finished in a time of 34.05, towing World Champion men’s skier Wayne Mawer and former God’s Gift skier, Nathan Glynn. Only one second behind them was the Harv’s team, with Neil Harvey bringing the small block Everingham down the river in 34.06.
The Super Class placings were the same as Outright, with God’s Gift winning in 32.02, Showdown second in 32.42 and third going to Rampage in 32.48. Only six of the eighteen Super Class boats finished, with three not starting and a massive nine retirements. Among those who failed to finish were Sniper, Thundernuts, The Thing, Moonshot, Mirage and The Axe. Of the six that did finish, the slowest time recorded was 34.05.
Unlimited Inboard and Outboard was taken out easily by Harv’s, towing Ian Delmenico and Jason Dyball down the river in 34 minutes, 6 seconds. The twin-rig Moovit, towing Brendan James and Kay Lindsell, followed them home in 37.59, whilst BBB Racing, towing Roy Turner and Mark Boyer, was third in 39.41.
Bat Outta Hell stormed home to take out the 8 Litre Inboard class, their two skiers Stuart Battye and Grant Syme crossing the line in 37.19. Second place went to The Eight Ball in 38.43, towing David Perrotto and Richard Gartrell. Status Queensland came in for third place, finishing in 41.49 towing Cameron Bird and Mark Weaver.
MOC Outboard was taken out by the Evinrude powered All Service Motors, with John Sloan and Ashley Campbell winning in 39.48. The Mover, towing Rob Vereyken and Simon Mitchell, was a close second, finishing in 39.55. Cyclone B.L. was third, completing the course in 40.49 with Wayne Cowgill and Brad Watt in tow.
Lenny Retallick’s Cinders, with Andrew Drake and Brad Chesser skiing, took out the 6 Litre Inboard class, finishing eleventh overall in 38.10. Queensland entry, Double Trouble, was second, finishing in 39.58 with Ben and David Mabin skiing. Insanity, towing Todd Buzza and Brad Mitchell, sneaked in for third in 40.27.
Stock 6 Litre went to Hazy, winning comfortably in a time of 41.25, with Grant Hayes and Peter Hunter skiing. The Sting, towing Scott Browne and Craig Dove, claimed second place in 43.02. In 44 minutes even, Sumtoy took out third, towing Colin Marks and Mark Trembath.
As is usually the case, SMOC Outboard provided some of the closest racing for the weekend. Crossfire, towing Andrew Ellis and William Dick, won the race in 40.40, slicing nine seconds off the record. Stokin Racing wasn’t far behind in second place, finishing in 40.53 towing Travis Oliver and Matt Campbell. Short Cut, towing Gavin Arnott and Troy Porter, finished in 40.59 to claim third place.
Thunder One, towing Russell Moore and Darren Johnson, just missed out on breaking the 5.2 Litre and 6 Cylinder Inboard record, finishing four second short in 40.34. A distant second was Guns & Roses, towing Paul Robertson and Brendan McNamara accross the line in 44.21. Third, in 44.43, was Strongbrew, towing James Connell and Andrew Tomkins.
Johnson Outboards continued to reign supreme in the 175 Hp. Outboard class, towing Troy Cardwell and Rod Aitken into first place in a time of 43.56. Warlock, towing Ian Duggan and Kaine Millard, was a close second in 44.04, while Small Torque was also close to the mark, finishing in 44.10 towing Steve McConnell and Michael Keen.
Open Womens Expert was taken out by Sitting Bullet in a time of 38.42, towing Lee Hicks and Julie Lord into thirteenth place overall. Second went to Airborne, finishing in 43.20 with Claire Graziano and Vanessa Eyles doing the skiing. Third was Magnum, towing Tracy Weatherburn and Karen Hancock accross the line in 54.02.
Only two boats lined up for the Under 19 Boys, with Smoke, towing James Minchin and Bryan McKenzie, winning in 37.51 and placing ninth overall. Second was Viper, finishing in 43.19 towing Luke Pledger and Scott Brown.
Status, towing Emma Carson and Bernadette Patterson, blitzed their Under 19 Girls rivals, winning in 38.50 and placing fifteenth outright. E Coli UTI was second, was Dianna Thomas and Emma Thompson finishing in 51.16. Hitman, towing Alicia Turner and Sarah Pledger, was third in 52.12.
Under 16 Boys was taken out by Rebel, towing Phil Arnott and Charlie Hunt down the river in 38.20 and finishing twelvth overall. Second place went to Executive Stress, finishing in 39.43 towing Kade Hancock and Chris Gelle. Wild Turkey, towing Chris Singleton and Robert Cheetham, finished third in 40.04.
Raging Bull, towing Rebecca Nicholds and Bridie Anderson, won the Under 16 Girls in a new record time of 43.08, one second under the old ‘96 record. Under the Hammer, towing Leanne Edwards and Bethany Pledger, claimed second place in a time of 44.07, while Longshot was third in 49.06, towing Farrah Shepherd and Michelle Laidlaw.
Victory in Under 13 Boys went to Cyclonic, towing Ryan Constable and Jason Penny down the river in 45.58. Second place went to Mickey D, finishing in 50.33 with Chelsea Nicholds and Ashley Smith skiing. Flatnacker was third, with Simon Handley and Grant Wastle finishing in 56.46.
The Mover was the winner of the Under 13 Girls, with Megan Fuller and Kylee Jones finishing in 57.30. Second place went to Chloe Shipp and Shan Boyer skiing behind Sub Zero, which finished in 1.03.13.
Illusion blitzed it’s competition in the 8 Litre Social class, towing Wayne Stackpoole and Darryn Williams accross the line in a new record time of 37.55. Roulette, with Paul Beck and Mark Sutherland skiing, finished second in 41.47, while Temper came in for third place in 42.30, with Craig Rowlands and Gavin Walker doing the skiing.
The Mover was really moving in the new MOC Social class, taking a comfortable victory in 40.36 with Rob Vereyken and Simon Mitchell skiing. Two Radical, towing Bruce Munro and Paul McDonald, finished second in 43.12. Third, in a time of 43.13, was Hornet, with David Chassar and TBA skiing.
6 Litre Inboard Social was taken out by Revolution, with David Edwards and Scott Williamson crossing the line in 43.08. Second went to Tuff Call, towing Nathan and Todd Brieschke home in 43.40. Mandunka, towing Gary Monaghan and Stephen Bates, claimed third place with a time of 43.55.
SMOC Social was a close and fast affair, with Short Cut, towing Brian Gebing and Andrew Ellis, setting a new record time of 41.12. Crossfire, towing Justin Rogers and Kevin Kitteringham, was second in exactly 42 minutes, while third went to Still No Dramas, with Ian Petrac and Adrian McGlynn finishing the race in 43.08.
Another new record was set in the Stock 6 Litre class, with Way to Go, towing Scott Lovell and Darren Laub, winning in 42.50. Last year’s winner, Sumtoy, could only manage second, with Colin Marks and Mark Trembath finishing in 44.31. Third place went to Ruff Cut, who towed John Clancy and Mark Boyer home in 46.20.
The outboards continued to dominate the 5.2 Litre Inboard / 175 Hp. Outboard class, with Small Torque winning in 44.38 with Steve McConnell and Michael Keen skiing. Warlock, towing Kaine Millard and Ian Duggan, was second in 45.20, with High Roller, towing David Gibson and Stuart Mitchell, placing third in 46 minutes even.
Open Womens Social was taken out by Shadrack, with Kelly Milner and Sherryn Lowndes crossing the line in 44.49. Second place, in a time of 47.04, went to The Joker, towing Christie and Tania Boyd. Spinal Tap finished in 47.26 to claim third place, with Jacqui Henderson and Bridie Anderson doing the skiing.
MyGrain was once again too good in the 6 Litre and 6 Cylinder Inboard / 140 Hp. Outboard class. The Holden powered Seacraft, towing Robert Bertram and Anthony Charles Glass, won in a time of 49.26. Second was For Play, towing Troy Duncan and Basrry Cowland home in 51.01. Close behind for third was The Menace, the 135 Hp. outboard towing Brett Farrell and Luke Harris down the course in 51.20.
Grant Wastle, skiing behind The Force, set a new record in the Tadpoles class, finishing first in 9.20, taking seventeen seconds off the old record set back in ‘93. Troy Boyer, skiing with Simple Minds, was second in 10.22, while Simon Handley came in for third place in 11.30.
In the Over 40 Veterans class, Agrovation, towing Peter Gasgard and Graeme Watts, smashed the class record they had set last year, winning in 7.50. Right on their tail was Spontaneous, towing John Pudney and John Baumgurtel down the 20 km course in 7.51. Hazy took out third, with Ray Patterson and Snowy Geerling finishing in 9.07.
In the Under 16 Social class, Smokin Injun, towing twins Siahn and Cara Jochinke, finished first in a time of 11.38. Second place went to Tease Me in 12.03, towing Blair Plummer and Shane McAuliffe. Showtime, towing Travis Whitten and Will Kendall, was third in a time of 17.06.
Only one boat entered the Under 13 Social class, allowing E Coli UTI too take an effortless win in a time of 19.02, towing Teall Swift and Nyree Cangdon.
A few more entries for the Disabled class, with former God’s Gift skier, Wade Bennett, skiing behind Stokin Racing, winning in a new record time of 8.50. Wade was invovled in a horrific 180 km stack at the Mildura Ski Drags a few years ago, but he has recovered from near death to continue breaking records. Justin Knopp, another star ski racer invovled in a bad stack, claimed second place in 9.33 skiing behind Lucky, while Laurie Cunningham, skiing behind Bulle, finished third in 10.13.