The 2010 Bridge to Bridge ski race coordinator Mark Stephenson stands in the rain with his umbrella, sizing up the conditions that forced the committee to cancel the event due to poor visibility. It was the first time the event has been called off due to bad weather.
The 2010 Bridge to Bridge ski race coordinator Mark Stephenson stands in the rain with his umbrella, sizing up the conditions that forced the committee to cancel the event due to poor visibility. It was the first time the event has been called off due to bad weather.

Ski Classic cancelled due to wet

YESTERDAY afternoon saw an exodus of 4WDs and high-powered ski boats from Grafton as the 2010 Bridge to Bridge ski classic was reluctantly cancelled by organisers.

The main race of the two-day event was scheduled for 9.30 yesterday morning but rain and murky weather caused the event’s organisers, including Mark Stephenson, to think twice.

“The race was scheduled for a normal 9.30am start but when we got up this morning it was raining so we made a call to delay the start until 10.30am, at which time it wasn’t clearing at all, so we then decided to go back to 11.30,” Mr Stephenson said.

“It was still raining at that point and then the Bureau of Meteorology also issued a severe weather warning for the Northern Rivers.

“We also got advice from down river that there was another storm coming in off Yamba. Because of the visibility and the rain, we had to cancel it.”

Mr Stephenson said it was the first time in the event’s history it had been cancelled due to bad weather but said it just wasn’t worth the risk of attempting to go ahead in the low visibility.

“It’s not so much the skiers, it’s the drivers not being able to see. Some of these boats are doing 120 miles per hour so a slight drizzle might be okay but once it starts to rain, it’s near impossible to see,” he said.

“When you’ve got low visibility, it becomes really dangerous. If someone is in the water or something like that, they wouldn’t see them and it also makes it hard to see the course markers as well.”

Mr Stephenson said although it was a hard decision to make, it was fairly unanimous among the competitors.

“They’re all pretty good about it because, really, it’s their safety that’s on the line,” he said.

“Obviously they’re disappointed, some of them have come from America to race in this event and haven’t been able to do it but at the end of the day, there’s nothing you can really do about it, the gods played against us.”

Mr Stephenson said it was a shame the race was cancelled because it was shaping up to be a fast and furious event this year with a high number of entries.

“We had just shy of 140 starters for the race this year which was up about 15 or 20 on last year’s numbers,” he said.

“We had competitors from America, New Zealand, then the majority of the rest are from NSW and QLD, then a few from Victoria and also one from Western Australia.”

He also said racers had shown a lot of promise at Saturday’s Crown Shootout qualifying event.

“The weekend has been really good until now. It was good in the water yesterday and a fair few records were broken,” he said.

“Stinga, the boat that qualified first, also broke the record yesterday. Actually, the first two boats broke the record – Stinga and Blazen both broke the existing record.”

Mr Stephenson said the ominous weather had also kept some of the crowd away with fewer spectators turning up to watch Saturday’s shootout.

“I noticed the crowd for the street parade was actually still quite good though, maybe just a little bit down on usual,” he said.

The event will now have to wait until the October long weekend next year.



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