Merc Force has blasted to a famous victory in the 45th GTS Freight Management Mildura 100 ski race classic on the Murray River, crushing their rivals by more than 90 seconds in 31:11.23.
The race, that is broken into two equal legs, from Mildura Ski Club to Wicketts Point and return, is billed as the fastest water ski race in the world and saw more than 150 boats and crews take on the 100km event.
The Merc Force team of driver / owner Don Gulley, observer Kevin Boylan and star skiers Jake Tegart and Kris Knights put together close to a perfect performance, the culmination of almost five years of working hard together.
Second overall in a thrilling battle for the minor places was rising local crew Pigs Arsenal (32:47.71), with defending champions Sapphire third, just one second behind in 32:48.80.
It was a massive performance for Pigs Arsenal who compete in the unlimited inboard expert class, and improved from their third overall in last year’s Mildura 100. Their skiers – brothers Sean and Jack Stevens – signalled themselves to be future winners of their hometown race.
It was also a huge day for the Merc Force team with Merc Force 1 comfortably taking out the expert women’s event from Superbad (38:37.23) and Recoverys Reflection (38:55.11).
The winning team of skiers Maddison Boyer and Chelsea Blight, observer Christian Apps and driver Trent Souwer, clocked a total time of 36:39.31 – a race record and their third race record in Murray River classics.
The race record appeared to be under threat in the men’s event too. Leaving the starting point at the Mildura Ski Club in first position on the grid, Merc Force led at every check point of the first leg and raced to Wicketts Point in 15 minutes 30.88 seconds. At that point, they had Hellrazor’s race record of 30mins 58s in sight but in the end, they fell just 12 seconds short.
Merc Force have already claimed the Sydney Bridge to Bridge and Southern 80 in what has been their best season and skier Kris Knights said it was great to record another big victory.
“It’s good to knock the three wins off this year and this was the last one that I sort of wanted this year,” Knights said.
“The (Barrie) Beehag would be nice, but if it doesn’t come off, we’ve got the three big ones so I’m happy.
“We’ve been working hard and it’s taken a while to get to here. We’ve been together for five years now. It doesn’t just come over night and we’ve put in a lot more preparation than other years.
“We are trying to adapt to most things. We didn’t expect to win at Echuca (Southern 80) starting as far back as we did but now to get this one, the fastest one, we’re all pretty happy too.”
Superman, who along with Merc Force have dominated this season, winning the Hawkesbury 120, the Grafton Bridge to Bridge, the Ted Hurley Memorial Classic and the Robinvale/Euston 80, blew an engine valve early in the first leg and didn’t take part in the return section of the race.
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In other events, Temper 2 won the U19 boy’s expert class in 34:27.88, good enough for eighth overall and once again indicating the strong futures that skiers Jake Coaldrake and Lachlan Nix possess.
Mental claimed the unlimited naturally aspirated expert event (40:45.50) and Velocity Racing the unlimited outboard expert class in 43:57.28.
The competitive MOC outboard expert race was won by Streamline Boat Covers in 43:56.70, and the SMOC outboard expert by Mercury Rising with a time of 41:33.16. The 70mph expert went to The Wedge (49:27.87) and the 60mph to Burn N Wood (56:41.00).
In the under 8 litre inboard expert event, Sportspage was quickest in 37:30.17, while Bulletproof was fastest in the under 6 litre inboard expert event (38:51.84).
Top Shot (37:44.11) took out the junior boy’s U16 expert, Enforcer (41:50.10) the F2 expert, Seriously Gro Up (40:10.47) the stock 6L expert and Mojo (38:23.89) the under 5.2l inboard expert.
In remaining events, Triple 666 (44:15.43) was too good in the U19 girl’s expert, No Fear (45:39.37) picked up top spot in the up to 200HP outboard. Chief (45:45.91) topped the sub junior boy’s U13, Flaamin (51:03.25) the girl’s U16 expert and The Contractor (53:43.91) the sub junior girl’s U13.
Prime Suspect (57:30.35) got the win in the sub junior lites, while In Pursuit 2 (58:11.67) was the only finisher in the weekend warrior class.
The final Australian ski racing river classic of the season – the Barrie Beehag – will take place on April 29 from Deep Creek Marina to Torrumbarry and return.
For a Twitter wrap go to @Aus_ski_racing or #Mildura100 or check our website for event wraps and results.