The annual GTS Mildura 100 will be a crowd pleaser this weekend, as the Victorian town comes alive in a power sports extravaganza over the Easter break. A chief perpetrator in high-octane action, the water skiing river classic will kick into gear from Saturday, March 31.
Among those taking to the river to contest the final event of the 2017/18 river classics season will be the Handley family, who embody the idea of water skiing being a sport enjoyed by the entire family.
This weekend brothers Sam and Alex and their father Chris will be in action, albeit in different teams. Chris will be driving Top Gun F2 in the F2 Expert class, Alex behind the wheel of the Kaotic team boat in the Unlimited Inboard Expert class, while Sam will ski behind XS Cash in the Under 8 Litre Inboard Expert class.
Like many in the sport, water skiing is a chance for them to spend a weekend away together, even if they aren’t always part of the same crew.
“Our dad was racing in the early 80’s, and when we came along we got into racing motorbikes,” Sam Handley said.
“Dad got back into the sport about seven years ago, and we jumped on board. Unlike on the bikes, we all go away together for skiing and work together for a common goal.
“We’ve always skied socially before we went racing.”
What makes the Handley family story all the more intriguing is that they have rallied around Alex in the years since an accident left him without use of one of his arms. Racing across a number of classes, including disabled class, this season has been a memorable one for them.
“Alex has been in the sport for a while, and this year he pulled the boots back on and we have gone quite well in the disabled class,” continued Handley.
“A key part of his [Alex’s] preparation is training off the water, so when he is on there he can cruise one handed. Leading up to a race day he usually does a lot of massaging, so he is nice and limber, ready to go.”
While skiing has been the go to for Alex Handley of late, this weekend he’ll be taking on the challenges of driving in one of the most popular classes.
“This weekend Alex will be driving Kaotic for skiers Adrian Nix and Brendon Fogarty. He has skill as a driver, and drove at the 2015 world water skiing championships too,” Sam Handley added.
“Due to his condition he has hydraulic power steering in his boat, which allows it to be a lot lighter for him.”
With the Handley’s representing the bulk of the field – skiers, drivers and observers looking for a fun weekend out, for another group of contestants overall victory will be their main aim.
Leading the charge will be the Merc Force team, who have won the last two river classic events in a row. The team also lead the standings in the coveted ‘King of the Murray’ competition, and will be eager to claim the prestigious Dennis Rowbottom Memorial trophy.
However clipping at their heels will be the Superman team, who have Daniel Cotton and Daniel Graziano on the skis, two guys considered among the fittest in the sport.
Locals from Mildura will have a home grown team to cheer for in the chase for line honours, the Stevens family racing aboard Hells Arsenal. Chris Stevens will be driving, with son’s Sean and Jack skiing. Mark Boyer will be the team’s observer.
Events at the GTS Mildura 100 begin at 9am AEDT at the Mildura Ski Club on Saturday March 31 with social ski racing taking pride of place. The Top 40 Shootout to determine the starting order for Sunday’s main event is expected to commence around 3pm AEDT.
Sunday’s racing will begin at 9am AEST (note one hour time change to Australian EasTern Standard time) at the same place for the main event.