1999 CLUB MARINE SOUTHERN 80.
After their record shattering efforts in last years Club Marine Southern 80, the God’s Gift team entered the 1999 race as hot favorites. They were aiming to better last year’s record of 32.02, and were also vying to be the first team to take back-to-back victories since Island Cooler in 1989 / 90.
However, this year’s race was to be the Gift’s first for the 1998 / 99 ski racing season, and strong opposition was expected from many of the 18 other Super Class competitors. Last year’s runner-up, Showdown, had been in scintillating recent form, taking out the 98 Grafton Bridge to Bridge. Argo, the 1997 Southern 80 winner, returned with realistic hopes of victory, after having recently dominated at the 1998 American Nationals. And surprise 1998 Bridge to Bridge winners, Wild Turkey, were again relegated to underdog status, although they were quietly confident that the girls could again triumph over the boys.
This year’s race also took on an international flavour, with Californian boat More Money Honey competing in the event for the first time. The 21 foot Hallett boat, powered by a 496 c.i. twin-turbocharged Chev motor, travelled to Australia to compete in the 1998 Sydney Bridge to Bridge, where they took out the Unlimited class. Owner and driver, Wallie Clearman, decided to have a crack at the Southern 80, hoping to repeat his recent success.
Saturday’s Bakers Blitz was sure to provide the best form guide for Sunday’s big race, and as expected, Gods Gift stormed down the 20km course to take out first place. Towing regular skiers Jamie Oliver and Stephen Robertson, the team recorded a time of 7 minutes and 7 seconds, only four seconds outside their previous Blitz record set back in 1996.
Showdown came in for second place, only four seconds behind the Gift, recording a time of 7.11. Thundernuts, with their new twin-turbocharged motor, took out third place in 7.13, towing Scott Dominguez and Jamie Graziano.
Fourth went to Mirage, in a time of 7.26; they were closely followed home by Top Shot in 7.28 and then Argo in 7.32. In seventh place was the new Queensland twin-rig, 2 Extreme, followed by More Money Honey, Madness and Cyclone Racing 2 in tenth place.
The sun was shining brighter than ever on Sunday morning, as the big boats started to assemble at Torrumbarry in anticipation of the 12:30 p.m. start. After having secured the coveted number one starting position, and with 80 kilometres of clear water in front of them, the God’s Gift crew were quietly confident that another victory could be theirs.
The tension was high as they received the thirty second countdown, and as the flag dropped, all eyes were focused on only one thing. The God’s Gift team got off to a magnificent start, rounding the first bend in a hurry and starting their journey back to Echuca.
However, their hopes of back-to-back victories were shattered when Jamie Oliver’s rope snapped at the ski pole. As they hastily set about repairing the rope, Showdown roared around the corner, accidentally running over the rope and carrying it with them up the river.
The rope was recovered and repaired again, and the team then continued down the river, hoping their run of bad luck was over. But then their other skier, Stephen Robertson, also had his rope snap on him, and after more repairs the God’s Gift team decided to cruise home, finishing in a time of 1.01.05.
Showdown, however, had assumed control of the race, and they finally looked like they were about to shrug off the bridesmaid’s tag and win their first Southern 80. Not long after passing God’s Gift, however, one of the twin-rig’s Mercury motors shut down at over 100mph, throwing the boat onto one side and slowing to 30mph.
Fortunately, driver Ian Tricker soon realized that his elbow had bumped the ignition switch and shut the motor down. He quickly restarted the motor and they continued home, crossing the finish line in a time of 32.50 minutes and with an average speed of 146 kph.
It was enough to finally secure victory for the team, which consisted of driver Ian Tricker, owner / observer Steve Cotton and skiers Daniel Cotton and Dean Hanckel. After having placed second outright in 1996 and 1998, it was an appropriate victory for such a fast and consistent team.
After Showdown crossed the finish line, there was quite a wait for the next boat, with Thundernuts, starting from third, and Top Shot, starting from fifth, both retiring. Mirage started from fourth place, but encountered mechanical difficulties along the way, and after a half-hour stop they finished in 1.01.53.
The second boat to roar across the finish line was Argo, the beautiful twin-turbocharged Racecraft completing the course in 33.34. Towing Adam Kaal and Gavin Ohlback, the Argo team started from sixth position, and comfortably took out second outright.
Third outright went to the great yellow and white Everingham, Harv’s, towing Ian Delmenico and Jason Dyball. This team was competing in the Unlimited class, and driver Neil Harvey did a fantastic job starting from nineteenth position. The small block twin-turbocharged boat finished the course in a time of 35.05.
Fourth outright was an even bigger surprise, with the twin-turbocharged Thumpin coming from 53rd position to take out the Under 19 Boys class. This team, which came all the way from Queensland to compete, finished in a time of 35.48 towing Ben Mabin and Caan Childs.
Wild Turkey, another twin-turbocharged Racecraft, came home in fifth outright in a time of 36.11. Towing triple world champion Leanne Brown and Cherie Williams, this team also took out the Women’s class comfortably.
In sixth outright was another twin-rig Mercury, Polycraft Racing, who recorded a time of 37.06. The 21 foot Bullet boat started well back in 70th position, yet still managed to take out second place in Unlimited.
First place in Super Class went to the Showdown team, followed by Argo and then 2 Extreme, who placed third in their first Southern 80, towing the brothers Ian and Brett Dipple. Of the 18 entered in Super Class, only nine managed to finish, with three boats not starting and six boats failing to complete the 80km’s. Among those that failed to finish were More Money Honey, Top Shot and 1992 outright winner, Thundernuts.
In the Unlimited Inboard and Outboard class, Harv’s, managed to complete their hat trick of wins, having won this class for the last three years in succession. Polycraft Racing finished in second place , towing Shane Clarke and Nathan Wade. Spinner finished in third place, towing Darryn Williams and Brett Jenkins.
33 boats were entered to contest the 8 Litre Inboard, although eight didn’t start and eight more retired. Exertion, towing Kane Powell and Jason Tennant, started from position 119 and stormed home to finish first. Only twenty-five seconds behind was Agrovation, towing Paul and Ben Howard, with Stress coming in for third place towing John Pudney and Craig Harper.
MOC Outboard was taken out by The Mover, which also took out MOC Social earlier Sunday morning. Their skiers, Kris Webb and Simon Mitchell, crossed the finish line thirty seconds below the 40 minute barrier. Short Cut wasn’t far behind in second, towing Jason Walmsly and Gavin Arnott, while Gambler took out third towing Scott Lovell and Chad Hicks.
Queensland entry Double Trouble took out 6 Litre Inboard, towing Steven Lomas and Rob Penny. Second place went to Insanity, towing Todd and Dave Buzza, while third was The Real McCoy, towing Scott Brown and Graeme Watts.
Stock 6 Litre was convincingly taken out by Jagged Edge, towing Dean Scarce and Scott Pearce. Second was Solid Gold towing Noel and Jason Cartledge, and third went to Flat towing Tim Brown and Wayne Dinli.
As usual, their were plenty of competitors and close racing in the SMOC Outboard class. Concept Racing, towing Simon Reid and Steve Madsen, scraped home in first, followed by Still No Dramas in second, towing Jason Hartley and Ian Petrac. Third went to Screamin Seamen, towing Chris Bailey and David Moretti.
Strongbrew took the honors in the 5.2 Litre and 6 Cylinder Inboard class, towing Andrew Tomkins and Darren McGill. Red Pepper, towing Russell Moore and Tim Carson, finished in second place, followed by Rattler II in third, towing Leslie Tomada and Johnny Tomada.
!75 Hp. Outboard again provided some extremely close racing, with local boat Hammer towing Nick Groves and Sam Horne finishing first. Warlock was second, towing Kaine Millard and Ian Duggan, while Kane-It finished third towing Guy Campbell and Steven Hughes.
Age and Gender Classes
Wild Turkey, winner of the 98 Bridge to Bridge, stormed home to finish first towing Leanne Brown and Cherie Williams. Second home was Status, towing Emma Carson and Tracey Graziano, while the single-rig outboard, Sitting Bullet, was third towing Lee Hicks and Julie Lord.
The Under 19 Boys was easily taken out by Thumpin, towing Ben Mabin and Caan Childs, they were followed home by Smoke, towing Brad Spencer and James Minchin, and then Legless, towing Daniel Graziano and Brian Turner.
The Under 19 Girls was easily taken out by Amazon Warrior, towing Leanne and Amanda Hills. On the Prowl finished in second place, towing Bridie Anderson and Michelle Laidlaw, whiel Simple Minds came in third towing Renee Plummer and Hailey Smith.
Rebel took out the Under 16 Boys class, towing Bryson Lloyd and Chris Singleton. Second home was twin-rig 2 Hard, towing Reece Middlemiss and Robert Cheetham, while third was Sonic, towing Brad Christian and Shane Weaver.
In the Under 16 Girls, Under the Hammer easily broke the old record, towing Leanne Edwards and Bethany Pledger home in a time of 40.55. Short Cut claimed second place, towing Karen Edwards and Rebecca Blight, while Smokin Injun came in for third towing Cara and Siahn Jochinke.
Sub Junior Boys was taken out by Just Kidn, towing Christopher Stout and Brendan Stout. Second place went to Voo Doo, towing Jay Glass and Luke Gulley, while Citation was third towing Troy Boyer and Kane Howard.
The Force smashed the old record in the Sub Junior Girls, toiwng Leanne Wastle and Tara Williams. Second was Sub Zero 2, towing Chloe Shipp and Shan Boyer, while Azatak 2 was third, towing Kahlie Freeman and Brooke Robinson.
As usual, Illusion was the first boat to leave Torrumbarry at 8.00a.m Sunday morning, and they stormed in to Echuca in just over 37 minutes. Their skiers, Wayne Stackpoole and Darryn Williams, crossed the finish line ten seconds quicker than their record from last year. Second in 8 Litre Social was Little Loose, towing Grant Turner and Michael Kelly, while Revenge was third towing Wayne Herkess and Todd Bussa.
The Mover started off their morning well, towing Bruce Monroe and Garry Arnfield into first place in MOC Social. Second was Contract, towing Jason Martin and Mark Stephenson, while Two Radical was third towing Wayne Cowgill and Brett Hewitt.
6 Litre Social was taken out by Tuff Call, towing Todd and Nathan Brieschke. Second place went to All Torque, towing Clinton Gray and Adrian Bishop, while Revolution came in third towing David Edwards and Clarke Rutherford.
SMOC Social went to B.L Marine, towing Darren Purdom and Kevin Kitteringham. Shogun Racing finished in second, towing Simon Shields and Adam Trethowan, while Petty Cash, towing Brett Murphy and Shane Russo, finished third.
Jagged Edge sliced ten second off the previous Stock 6 Litre Social record, towing Simon Mitchell and Dean Scarce. Migraine finished second, towing Brett Alymer and John Clancy, while Way to Go, towing Darren Laub and Jason Way, finished third.
Red Pepper broke the old 5.2 Litre and 175 Hp. Social record, towing Wayne Kinsela and Brad Altham. Small Torque, towing Steve McConnell and Jason Tipler, took out second place, with Warlock taking out third towing Kaine Millard and Ian Duggan.
Open Women Social was taken out by The Joker, towing Christie Boyd and Joanne Martin. Mickey D, towing Bridie Anderson and Sharryn Hyett, finished in second place, while Smokin Injun came in for third, towing Elise Jochinke and Lisa Carne.
The last Social class was 6 Litre Midmount, 6 Cylinder Midmount and 140 Hp. Outboard. First place went to MyGrain, towing Robert Bertram and Nick Hore, second was Commodore X towing Paul Mitchener and Craig Dove and third was Psychoward towing Dale Hutchins and Lachlan Cunningham.
The Tadpoles ( Under 10 ) were the first away on Saturday afternoon, and Kane Howard, skiing behind Little Man, took out first place. Breakaway, towing Joel Diamantopoulos, came in second, while Adam Williams finished third skiing behind The Force.
Veterans ( Over 40 ) was taken out by Bat Outta Hell, towing John Pudney and T. B. A. Second place went to The Real McCoy, towing John Chesser and Noel Cartledge, while Agrovation came in third towing Peter Gasgard and Graeme Watts.
Purple Rain finished in first place in the Under 16 Social class, towing Ashley Gliddon and Michael Gunther. Aggression, towing Michelle James and Danielle McMullen, finished in second, while Cinders came in for third towing Billy Anderson and Matthew Brooks.
The Under 13 Social class was taken out by Solid Gold, towing Stephanie Barens and Jamie Stark. Second went to The Rat, towing Nyree Langdon and Teall Swift, while Rubble finished third towing Brendan Harrison and Mitchell Comley.
The Disabled class was taken out by Laurie Cunningham, skiing behind The Tack. Second went to Daryl Smith, skiing behind Awesome, while Andrew Avery finished in third skiing behind Lucky.