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‘The Beast’ takes the Rollo’s Marine Yamaha N.Z. Bridge to Bridge Title

The 28th running of the Rollo’s Marine Yamaha Bridge to Bridge Water Ski Classic was again a fantastic and popular event in 2011.

The country’s best Water ski racers, powerboaters, jetskiers and Thundercats gathered in Hamilton for the annual event.

There was also a good contingent of Australian’s out to offer strong competition.

The weekend was full of drama with 3 out of the top 8 boats in the main race on Sunday with drawing after Saturdays race day.

It all started on Saturday morning with the Waikato Security Novice and Masters race from Hamilton to Taupiri return. The competitors in the Masters class were competing for the Tony van Deursen Memorial Cup. Tony was tragically killed in a ski racing accident just 5 weeks prior to the Bridge to Bridge and he was a well respected and popular man. This mean that everyone wanted to win it and win it for Tony. Warlord did an impressively quick first leg time down to Taupiri with Kevin Vahtrik of Australia on the back. They looked as though they would take it out with ease in a new record time but blew one of the engines in the return leg just out of Taupiri. This left the door open to Rick Powell of Taupo skiing behind newly imported rig out of the USA ‘The Beast Racing’ and ‘Messiah’ towing Mark Luxford of Auckland. The Beast had a 9 second lead at the turn around point only to find the wrong river on the way home at the fork in Ngaruawahia. This let Messiah through to take the title and make Mark Luxford the first winner of the Tony van Deursen Memorial Cup. Brett Seabrook of Auckland was 2nd, John Main of Hamilton 3rd. Not only did Warlord do damage in this race but Hawkes Bay rig ‘Attitude’ also withdrew from the main race after blowing an engine towing a skier in the novice race.

Social class was taken out by 2009 Long Race winner Force Fed, towing Australian Rhys Duggan. This was where the winning stopped for Force Fed though – they also blew an engine in the Time Trial on Saturday afternoon. This meant the big contenders for the race were dropping like flies and scrambling to find other boats to run behind for Sundays event. Messiah took out the Time Trial without too much problem a clear 2mins ahead of 2nd place, Stinga, and 3rd place, Muscle Milk. So that was the starting order for Sunday’s main event. The 82km sprint from Cambridge to Taupiri and back to Hamilton.

The first 12 boats all had perfect starts which is very unusual for the difficult starting area down in Cambridge. Disaster struck early on for the Messiah team towing Bevan Turksma and Vaughan Hyde – both previous winners of the race. They blew their engine coming through the Narrows, 5 mins south of Hamilton on the run down stream to Taupiri. This left the door wide open for the next 5 boats to battle it out for line honours. When the teams arrived in Taupiri they were in the following order; Stinga, Mayfair Pools, Hoofit, Muscle Milk and The Beast. The 5 boats spread by just 19 seconds.Mayfair Pools a new rig for 2011 with the skiers of B Jammin from previous years – Rick Powell and Mark Preistly. Hoofit was leant to the Attitude team of Dave & Tracey Hanks and skiing broths Logan & Jaaron Fritz. Muscle Milk had Bevan Scott and Aussie Chris Vigenser on the back.

The run back, was all or nothing and the horsepower shone through in the end with The Beast managing to turn a 19 second deficit into a 23 second win. The team of Colin Eagles (driver/owner), Jack Horan (observer, Cambridge), Mitch Horan, 15 (Skier, Cambridge) and Will Groves, 16 (Skier, Victoria, Aus) were as surprised as anyone when their names were read out at prizegiving, being the first Under 19 team in over 10 years to win the event. The big 21ft Nordic hull out of the USA with the Mercury Racing 1075HP and 6 Drive getting the job done.

The twin rig Bullet ‘Stinga’ was 2nd with Matt Hodson, Adam Smale, Paul Mitchell and Andy Cardno and 3rd and first MOC boat was ‘Mayfair Pools’ with Grant van de Vegte driving, Brendan Macpherson, and Rick Powell and Mark Preistly skiing. Attitude were 4th overall and 2nd in MOC.

5th Overall and 1st in Formula 2 with a new record time was the Yamaha powered rig Smokin, driven by Sam Fenwick with observer Chris Wilkins and young skiers Kane Carter and Daniel Tuffin. They were also 2nd in Under 19’s to The Beast. 2nd in F2 and 1st in Ladies was the team of Sleaze with Jeff Weake and Mike Dunstall towing Jordan Bradley and Adelaide Cox . The Sleaze team also took out the King of the Rivers overall title for the combination of times between the Bridge to Bridge and the Twin Rivers held 2 weeks previous over in Thames.

SMOC class was extremely tight with 10 seconds covering the top 3 with the Force Fed using their Back up boat ‘Phantom’ as a spare taking it out after jumping in the boat just minutes before race start.

All in all, with the exception of the weather the event ran very smoothly with several records broken and plenty of fun had by all. The competitors and the New Zealand Water Ski Racing would like to thank all the generous sponsors, organisers and volunteers for making it all happen,

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