Merc Force has gone a long way to cementing victory in the 45th Mildura 100 water ski classic on the Murray River with a stunning first half of the race.
Leaving the starting point at the Mildura Ski Club in first position on the grid of 150 boats, Merc Force led at every check point and raced to Wicketts Point in 15 minutes 30.88 seconds.
Second was local crew Pigs Arsenal, who compete in the unlimited inboard expert class, in 16:16.13 with defending champions Sapphire third best in 16:20.64.
Fellow superclass boat Strike Force (16:32.34) was fourth, while Superman were troubled by technical problems and slipped back in the second half of the leg to clock 17:04.03.
The ski racing river classics this year have been dominated by Merc Force and Superman, the former having claimed the Sydney Bridge to Bridge and Southern 80 double. For their part Superman won the Hawkesbury 120, the Grafton Bridge to Bridge, the Ted Hurley Memorial Classic and the Robinvale/Euston 80 in what has been a memorable season.
The return leg to Mildura Ski Club is set to begin at noon.