HE'S watched the action from the banks of the Clarence, from the walkway of the Bendy Bridge, and from the water in an official course boat, but last weekend Clarence Valley Councillor Richie Williamson got a whole new perspective ahead of this year's Grafton Bridge to Bridge water ski race.
Local competitor and Big River Ski Club president Jason Disson took Williamson for a quick run up the Clarence River in his race boat Bazinga, an experience Williamson described as "frightening and exhilarating".
Williamson has already chosen the Grafton Bridge as his vantage point to watch the action in next weekend's staging of the annual event.
"The Grafton Bridge to Bridge weekend is an event unique to the Clarence Valley," he said.
"It brings with it a great economic boost to the area and the long weekend enables our community to get out and enjoy the spectacle."
Jason Disson first slipped on a ski boot at the age of five and competed in his first Grafton Bridge to Bridge in 1981.
"I was 10-years old when I first did the Bridge. There weren't many young skiers around then so I competed in an adult class behind our family boat," Disson said.
The family tradition will continue this year when Disson's son competes in the race.
"My son, Brandon, will be skiing in his first Grafton Bridge to Bridge this year which will be a good experience for him," Disson said.
"My parents, sister and wife have also had a strong association with the sport."
Disson said the adrenaline rush he gets when out on the water ensured he remained devoted to the sport.
"It's that racing buzz, the speed buzz," he said.
"The social side is also brilliant. Ski racing has introduced me to some great people and taken me to some great places".
Despite having travelled countless thousands of kilometres across Australia to compete in races, Disson said there was no denying we have something pretty special here in the Valley.
"The Clarence River is still, by far, the best place in the world to go boating."
Quick facts about the Grafton Bridge to Bridge
Race distance: 108 kilometres
Number of entries: 110 this year
Top speeds: 190kph
Record: 'Blazen' in 2010. Time of 36 min, 50 sec
History: Race has been run since 1973
Running schedule for the 2012 Disco Marine Grafton Bridge to Bridge
Saturday 9-11am: Static display at Grafton Shoppingworld top carpark
Noon: Street Parade down Prince St
2pm: Qualifying shootout
Sunday from 9am: 2012 Disco Marine Grafton Bridge to Bridge Ski Classic.
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