The 57th running of the internationally renowned Sydney Bridge to Bridge water skiing classic has been won by Victorian team Pigs Arsenal, who in just their second attempt at the race have come away with one of the biggest prizes in Australian water skiing.
Contested over a 112km course from Dangar Island in Brooklyn north of Sydney all the way down the Hawkesbury River to Governor Phillip Park in Windsor, the ‘Sydney Bridge’ is one of the most gruelling races on the Australian calendar.
While Pigs Arsenal celebrated, the battle for the minor placings took on a life of its own off the water. Despite crossing the line second overall, McGraths Hill team TR were relegated to fourth after being adjudged to have committed a start line infringement.
High drama for TR promoted Wilberforce crew Stinga F1 – skippered by six-time Sydney Bridge winner Greg Houston – to second. Resultantly another Victorian team, Temper 2, assumed third overall. For their part, TR did not formally protest the penalty handed down.
At the top end of town, the win by the Pigs Arsenal team of Chris Stevens (driver), Mark Boyer (observer) and brothers Jack and Sean Stevens also created a small slice of history. For the first time since the God’s Gift in 1995, today marked the first time that a full Victorian team has triumphed at the Sydney Bridge. Cheekily, skier Sean Stevens said they were simply returning the favour to their NSW counterparts.
“While we don’t normally race the bridge, now that we’re in Superclass we thought we should race them all [the river classics]. It’s only fair, the Sydney competitors always come down to our Victorian races, we have three major events down there, so we’re returning the favour up here – and it came off as a benefit to us,” Stevens enthused.
“Winning this one feels amazing, to finally get our first outright win, let alone at the Sydney Bridge to Bridge which is one of the biggest ski races in Australia – if not the world, we’re just ecstatic.
“We definitely thought that our first outright victory would be one of the Victorian races, we don’t come up to the bridge that often. So, to do it without any training under our belt [on the Hawkesbury], and not really know where we were on the course…yeh, it’s beyond my wildest dreams.”
Although the Victorian’s had the most to crow about at the end of racing, there was some solace for the New South Welshman among the 82 finishers. No less than 11 Sydney locals claimed wins in their respective classes on a warm day, ideal for ski racing.
Alongside their second outright, Stinga F1 also won the Unlimited Inboard class, as Maraylya’s Dr Evil took the win in the Unlimited Naturally Aspirated class. Liverpool’s Nothin But won Under 6 Litre, as two crews from Pitt Town claimed wins – Corruption in the Sportsman’s 95mph class and Big Loll in the Weekend Warriors class. Berowra’s Pumped Up topped MOC class, Annangrove’s Team 26 won a fiercely contested Formula 2 race.
Wilberforce team Revolution Racing won the Under 16 Girl’s event, team Epic from Lower Portia the Under 14 Boy’s. In the corresponding Under 14 Girl’s race Hootin put in a strong performance. The final Sydney team to taste victory in their home event was Wiseman Ferry’s Run Again in the 60mph class.
With one of the most prestigious river classic races now done, attention will turn to the Australian Speed and Marathon Championships to be held in Jindabyne from January 9-12. That event will act as a selection race for the 2019 IWWF World Waterski Racing Championships to be held in Vichy, France next September.
RESULTS: 57TH Sydney Bridge to Bridge