Popular waterski race, Southern 80, returns to Echuca-Moama after COVID delays
Posted On May 5, 2022
Echuca-Moama is buzzing in the lead up to hosting one of the Murray River area’s most popular tourist attractions after its postponement following the Omicron wave.
This year marks the 52nd Southern 80 weekend to be held in the Murray River region
The start line for the elite superclass race is in Torrumbarry Weir — 80 kilometres of river and more than 124 bends away from the finish line under the new Echuca-Moama Dungala Bridge
There are 40 classes of all ages racing in the Southern 80, with the superclass record held by 2019 competitors TR
Plans to hold Southern 80 in February were thrown into disarray after the new variant saw much of the healthcare sector on its knees due to staff shortages.
“Due to staffing concerns by emergency services, they recommended that we postpone the event, which we did,” Moama Water Sports Club volunteer media and data manager Julie Golledge said.
“We looked at alternative dates that fit it into the ski racing calendar but also fit into Echuca-Moama tourism.
Longest ski race
The start line for the elite superclass race is in Torrumbarry Weir — 80 kilometres of river and more than124 bends away from the finish line under the new Echuca-Moama Dungala Bridge.
Two skiers race about 60 meters behind the boat on one ski along the Murray River.
Teams are limited to speeds depending on their membership, but the top teams can get up to 120 kph.
Returning to the river
Dylan Stevenson has been skiing ever since he was a young boy growing up in the twin towns.
With a stellar track record in the Southern 80, including first place with TRin the Bakers Blitz and second in the superclass in 2020, Stevenson will be looking to add to his trophy cabinet this year racing behind Sportagewith local teammates Cameron Horne (ski partner), Dean Johns (driver) and Anthony O’Reilly (observer).
“It’s a very enduring sport. Imagine any 35–40-minute endurance event and it’s a max effort event.
“You train really hard, work on your cardio and your strength and your skiing ability. It’s all those things in one.”
Jade Pumpa similarly started racing young and will spend his second season in the driver’s seat with Observer in the 70 miles per hour expert class.
“It’s still nerve-racking for me. There’s a lot of things to think about,” he said.
“Although it’s not really physically taxing, there’s a lot to do and a lot to think about.”
Gearing up for quick times
Due to the cooler temperatures for this year’s event, some experts are tipping records could be broken.
“The boats do produce more horsepower in colder weather,” Pumpa said.
May’s Southern 80 will also round out the King of the Murray series involving the Robinvale-Euston 80, the Mildura 100 and the Murray Darling 110 races.
This year, Superman can win the King of the Murray title, if successful in the Southern 80.