Young guns show class at top race
WATER SKIING: Sandy Hook Ski Club has returned upbeat from the world-renowned Southern 80 ski race, with Hayley Barrett and Anita Patterson securing a second placing.
Held at Echuca, on the Murray River, the race attracts some of the best ski teams on the planet.
The notoriously tough course features a total of 132 horse-shoe and hairpin bends over an 80km stretch.
Sandy Hook club observer and long-time skier Steve Barrett said the rising ski stars performed beyond their years in the 60kmh category to place second in a 45-strong field.
He said many of the Southern 80 competitors’ boats had ended up on the banks of the Murray and one skier had died.
“It’s a pretty gruelling race, so we were hoping just to finish,” he said.
“Water is not soft when you’re travelling at high speeds.”
Mr Barrett said hours spent on the Burnett River had prepared his team for what lay ahead.
“It’s a tough course but the conditions were favourable on the day,” he said.
“It’s usually pretty rough in the Burnett River, so the girls know how to keep their footing.”
With 16 of the 45 teams disqualified for breaking the 60kmh speed limit, Mr Barrett praised veteran driver Col Patterson.
“He watched the speedo constantly, which can be difficult when you’re in a high-pressure environment,” he said.
The team is set to return in 2011 with the gold medal in its sights.
“It was the girls’ first time at the race and to have this sort of result is phenomenal,” Mr Barrett said.
“They are really starting to come into their own. In another 12 months the girls will be performing even better, so I reckon we’ll be right up there.”