Words by Bianca Maher
Photography: Paul Wilson and Kevan Wolfe
Steven Morley retired from ski racing four years ago. But
the temptation of the Southern 80 proved too much. When the 1992 Thundernuts
crew of ‘geriatrics’ decided to give it one more shot, Steven just had to
be part of the team. “I came out of retirement just to win it – we set a
goal and we did it,” Steven said.
It was a decisive win by Blown Budget driven by
Mike Dominguez, his brother Tim was the observer and son Brett rode the
planks with Steven. The team from East Kew in Melbourne’s east finished
in a time of 31 minutes and 42 seconds, just 19 seconds outside Top
Shot’s 2000 record.
The 2003 Club Marine Southern 80, was a race of attrition,
many of the favourites failed to make it to the finish line. Last year’s
winner, Hellrazor, had oil pressure problems, blew an O-ring and
was forced to retire from the race. The Chief only made it 20ks
down the river before the Chev 496 packed it in and after breaking the
ski ropes three times The Sting decided to call it a day.
Last to cross the line in 50 minutes and 51 seconds was the
crew from Humble. With just two corners to go from the finish
line the boat spun out throwing driver Chris Tindale and observer Bernard
Tindale into the drink.
“Some people were pushing logs into the water and we hit
one which spun us out,” Chris explained. After climbing back on board
without a scratch and firing up the bilge pumps, they got going again and
finished the race.
“It was definitely an experience I don’t want to repeat,”
The Bakers Blitz is a 20-kilometre race of the Super Class
held on the Saturday afternoon of the weekend program, with the fastest
across the line leading the pack for Sunday’s main event. This year there
were 19 entries, only 11 finished.
First to leave the five-mile boat ramp was Hellrazor,
the favourite to grab pole position after picking up the Blitz/Southern
80 double last year. But the guys had to settle for sixth position after
fuel problems saw them finish in a time of seven minutes and 24 seconds.
Fastest across the line was Stinga. The team took
out the Blitz in six minutes and 53 seconds, just two seconds outside Hellrazor’s
2002 record. With Greg Houston behind the wheel, Kevin Boylan observing
and Mitchell Galvin and James Graziano skiing, they looked to be the ones
to beat come Sunday.
Hitting a top speed of 122mph in “conditions nowhere near
as good as last year,” Kevin Boylan admitted that they had to run the
boat a lot harder and divert around one swimmer who had swum out just a
bit too far. Kevin, who has twice won the Southern 80 as a skier rated
their chances “as good as anyone’s, but it’s a totally different ball
Coming second in the Blitz was the 2001 Southern 80 winner,
The Sting, from Abbotsford, NSW, driven by Cliff Priest with
third place going to Blown Budget. Last year’s winner and record
holder of the six-litre inboard expert class, The Real McCoy,
was unable to make it a back-to-back victory. An engine problem put an
end to the team’s campaign just 10 minutes into the race.
In the S.M.O.C. Social Class, Shaun Tomkins notched up a
second consecutive victory driving Little Man. Shaun stood in
for his father Lance, the Director of the Moama Waterski Club a couple of
years ago. This year he won the race in 41 minutes beating his father’s
2000 result by more than two minutes. Lance still got his turn in the
driver’s seat of Little Man in the S.M.O.C. Expert Class.
For the third year in a row the team from Parkes, NSW, in E.Coli
Septic Shock won the 16-19 Boys Expert Class. And in the Open Women
Class, Status, cruised to victory shaving four seconds off the
For the winners of this year’s Southern 80, there will be
little celebration as the guys from Blown Budget work towards
achieving their next goal – developing the boat to make it handle better.
While it may come as a surprise to some to hear that the boat wasn’t
developed for the Southern 80, Mike says “it’s coming along nicely and I
think in the next month we’ll have it worked out.”
This year the Southern 80 returned to its usual timeslot of
the second weekend in February, after last year’s event was almost
cancelled due to problems obtaining liability insurance. Competitor
numbers were down slightly on last year due to insurance costs, but for
the die-hard enthusiasts, like Mike Dominguez and the team from Blown
Budget, nothing deters them from coming back.
“We’re pretty happy with this race, he said. “We love it.
It’s the best race in the world bar none.“