You can hear the roar of the engine before you get sight of a ski boat flying down the Murray River. My adrenaline was going when we caught sight of a boat so I can only imagine what the skiers were feeling.
The Southern 80 is the world’s biggest ski race in Victoria, Australia. The ski boats carry a driver, observer and two skiers for 80 kilometers along the river. There are 126 hair raising bends and boats travel at speeds in excess of 200 kilometres per hour.
On the second Sunday in February the Southern 80 is held and it is a great event for the whole family to enjoy. We walked the streets of Echuca Saturday morning and got up close and personal with the ski boats. So many of the boats are custom painted and the artwork is outstanding. They must pour a lot of money into these boats.
Racing on Saturday is 20km course and a qualifying round for the super boats. Their time determines the starting position for the main race. It was devastating to learn there was a fatality with one of the skiers and the race was stopped after the twelfth boat.
On Sunday the main event is held and thousands of spectators line the banks of the Murray River to watch the boats in action. Shade tents are set up in the water. Splashing around in the water to cool off also gave us a great view as we watched the boats speed past us.
Another accident where a boat flipped and sunk so the race was stopped while they cleared the river. As it took some time some of the boats were unable to start the race. My heart broke for them as I can imagine how they were feeling after dedicating so much time training and preparing for the event.
The following day I decided to try my hand at water skiing and I didn’t have much success. It feels like I worked every muscle in my body and I was sore for days. Gives me so much respect for the skiers and how they can hold on at such speed and for 80 kilomoters.
Have you been to the Southern 80? Can you water ski?