Paul WilsonClub Marine sponsored the Southern 80 ski race again this year, and as usual it was an absolutely fabulous weekend. The weather was kind, the crowds were up on previous years and, most importantly, the on-water action was spectacular.

I did get a bit of a shock, though, when I was unexpectedly and most pleasantly surprised to be presented with a very attractive silver tray in recognition of Club Marine’s nine-year association and sponsorship of the Southern 80 Ski Race. The occasion was the sponsors and owners cocktail party on the Friday night of the big weekend.

Receiving the award made me think back to ten years ago when a good friend of mine said to me, “Mate, you’ve got to come up to Echuca and see the Southern 80 water ski race!” I went, and the rest is history. Club Marine has sponsored the event ever since.

But the biggest surprise to me was the passage of time. Where have those ten years gone? You’ve heard it all before and probably said it yourself, but boy doesn’t the passing of time seem to accelerate in direct proportion to the degree of complexity of the life you lead.

New editor, Chris Beattie, came to the Southern 80 this year, and as he is a complete ski racing neophyte, I enjoyed watching him get blown away by the spectacle that is this great race. He was even able to capture a few half decent photographs!!

But it is an extraordinary event deserving of much greater and broader recognition than it currently receives. See the report beginning on page 34 for a detailed account of all the action and who won what.

From my side of the desk, the summer just past has been kind to boat owners, with a slightly lower than usual claims rate. In fact, had it not been for the storms that struck the east coast and Tasmania in February, Club Marine would’ve experienced a record low result for losses over the peak boating months.

I guess some would say that the rather mild summer we’ve all experienced has had a lot to do with this outcome. Alternatively, there wouldn’t be a region in Australia that hasn’t appreciated the rainfall that seemed to be wide spread in areas sorely in need of a good soaking.

Something else that became apparent this summer was the obvious market acceptance of imported boats. The sale of larger moored imported craft has long been accepted in Australia, but in the last few years we have started to see an ever-increasing number of imported trailerable boats, not only in the various show rooms, but also in large numbers down at the boat ramp.

Australian manufacturers who have struggled to keep up with orders are finding that some of their long-term retail distributors are being forced to go direct to overseas manufacturers, usually in the USA, to source product that can be landed sooner and at a price, in some cases, well below that of the locally manufactured boats.

I’ve had the opportunity to have a close look at some of these boats and I must say I’ve been impressed. The standard of fit-out and finish is very high, and the safety features are impressive. The litigious USA market has obviously forced a higher emphasis on safety that is reflected in their boats and we, as a secondary market, are benefiting greatly as a result.

In my opinion, these imports are here to stay, so local manufacturers will have to step-up and meet the demands of a more knowledgeable consumer or face oblivion.

Anyway, enjoy the magazine and remember that your safety is our top priority.