To the visitors the spoils
By SUZANNE BOURCHIER email@example.com
VICTORIAN entries captured first and third placings in the premier division of the annual Grafton Bridge to Bridge Ski Classic on the Clarence River yesterday.
In near perfect conditions, the boat Hellbent and team came first, followed by New Zealander Top Gun, second, and Chief, third.
At exactly 39.36.68 minutes after the first boat, Hellbent, took off, it flew down the last stretch of river to the finishing line, making the best time.
It was fast, very fast, but not quite fast enough to top the record, set last year by Stinga, at 37.47.05. Hellbent's Mark Cranny drove the team's new boat, with a 510cc twin-turbo Chev engine, to its first victory in a Grafton Bridge to Bridge. It was second in 2003 and broke down during last year's race.
Others in the Hellbent team were Damien Matthews observing and skiers Daniel Campbell and James Buser.
New Zealander Ross Christensen thought he would be trout fishing near his home this weekend until he received a call last Tuesday to enter and drive Top Gun. The boat was in Australia.
It turned out to be a good decision and he drove his 1400 horsepower Chev twin-turbo powered boat at around 190 kmh to second place.
Chief''s driver Colin McQueen, with the longest moustache as well as the third fastest boat in the race, was delighted with the change in Chief's fortunes
The team had until now been dogged by bad luck, not finishing its past few races.
One of Chief's skiers Daniel Schipp, who received a bad ankle injury four weeks ago, returned to racing yesterday, sore but smiling at the end.
Record-holder and defending champion Stinga did not fare well in the race, breaking down near Ulmarra, as did another superclass boat, Humble.
Fourth, fifth and sixth positions went to Moonshot, The B and Mirror Image.
"I am extremely happy," said a very relieved race organiser Mark Stephenson, after an injury-free race.