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Trans Tasman Challenge 2007

On the weekend of the 21st and 22nd of April the Trans Tasman Challenge was run in the beautiful town of Metung on the Gippsland lakes in Victoria. This was a new venue which had never seen ski racing before. Well all we can say is it was the best venue Australia has ever seen for a Tasman Challenge bar none!

Friday night saw the traditional introduction of the drivers, observers and of course the stars of the show the skiers! This was a fantastic get together where the drivers from Australia got to meet the skiers and observers that would be racing with them for the weekend. The official part of the evening was to do the boat draw where the skiers pulled a boat name out of a hat to see which boat they would start their campaign behind on the Saturday morning.

Saturday morning rolled around and gave some of the competitors their first glimpse of the very picturesque Metung as some had arrived in the dark the previous night. The day dawned still flat and sunny just perfect.

The first race on the card was under thirteen boys & girls. The boy’s race saw Dylan Cuff (Vic) just hold out Marc Skipper (NZ) in a fantastic battle for points but the outright winner was Ash Mansfield the Vic invitational skier.

Under thirteen girls saw the other invitational skier in Tayla Wright having the win but all the important points were collected by Nicole Walker (Vic) with a small margin back to Georgia Skipper (NZ)

Under sixteens was next and in the boys event it was Ben Pearse who won the event but Tyson McLean (Vic) collecting the points after Michael Witherford (NZ) had a big step off when both his bindings came off his ski. He was lucky not to be injured however he registered a D.N.F and wasn’t happy with that.

In the under sixteen girls Adelaide Cox (NZ) had a solid run to collect the points. Unfortunately Maddy Boyer (Vic) had quite a big get off. But as a testament to how tuff this chick is she finished the race in second place and was then carted off in an ambulance to be checked out. Third place was filled by Laura Pearse in a strong performance.

In the division two under nineteen boys the race had to be stopped under a unique Trans Tasman rule which states a boat failure will cause the race to be stopped. In this case “Mickey D” towing Jaaron Fritz (NZ) had a trim issue which caused the boat to hook in the bottom corner. The race was then restarted with two new boats (Wild Child & Getting Messy) and then “Wild Child” towing Troy Barrens (Vic) had a big fly off a cruiser wash loosing its engine cowl and splitting the hull and was forced out of the race causing another stoppage. The whole time James Hogben the Vic invitational skier was circulating quite nicely. The rest of the race would now be held over to Sunday.

In the division two under nineteen girls the conditions were getting rougher with the wind starting to pick up. Jordan Bradley (NZ) held off a hard charging Cassandra Taylor (Vic) to pick up the win and collect some valuable points for NZ. In third place was Megan Penny the Vic invitational skier in another strong performance.

Division one was where the number one skiers came out to play and this was evident when Paul Mitchell (NZ) had a toe to toe battle with Kane Howard (Vic) only to be piped by Kane at the end of the race. Unfortunately for Chris Mansfield “Pest” blew a gear box and was forced to retire from the event.

Division one girls and Hanna Humphries (NZ) showed why she is on the NZ team for F1 women’s at the worlds with a devastating display winning by over two laps to Ash Hogben (Vic) and Jess Pearse (invitational)

Saturday night was a free night for teams to get organised for the next days racing and for some of the boat owners to try and fix some problems that had occurred during the days racing. These boats included “Wild Child” “Mickey D” “Pest” “Still Crazy” and “Play Time” The only one to make it back on to the water would be “Pest” proving that the racing was very hard and fast.

Sunday morning dawned an overcast rainy morning but as the day progressed the sky cleared and we saw some more flat fast water. Race one was the last seventeen odd minuets remaining from our ill fated Division two boys race and this time it went without a hitch. Jaaron Fritz (NZ) taking the win in the race that took two days to complete! Over Troy Barens now skiing behind “Smokin Injun” kindly put in to the event by Jeff Jochinkie after ‘Wild Child” could no longer compete and third was James Hogben.

The next race on the card was under thirteen boys & girls with Marc Skipper (NZ) winning the boys back to Dylan Cuff (Vic) in second and Ash Mansfield rounding out the field. The girls had a great race with the invitational skier Tayla Wright taking the win over Nicole Walker (Vic) and Georgia Skipper (NZ) in third.

Next to strut their stuff were the under sixteens and in boys it was Tyson Mclean (Vic) then Ben Pearse (invitational) and third was Michael Witherford (NZ). In the girls it was Adelaide Cox to Madison Boyer (Toughest skier award for the weekend!) and Laura Pearse in third.

Under nineteens division two was a fantastic battle and the eventual winner was Jaaron Fritz (NZ) behind the driver of the weekend Jeremy Gleason in “Gettin Messy” back to Troy Barrens (Vic) and James Hogben in third.

Division one under nineteens was the last race of the weekend and the excitement was on when Ash Mansfield’s “Pest” nearly blew over coming down the first straight away. Then while leading ran out of fuel dashing any hopes Chris Mansfield had of winning the event. This left the door open to the two point score skiers and Paul Mitchell (NZ) who took the win from Kane Howard (Vic) by a slim margin. In the girls it was the Hanna Humphries (NZ) show again then Ash Hogben and Jess Pearse in third.

Sunday night saw the teams back at the Metung Yacht club for presentation and dinner. This was a fantastic night. Good food and good company. There were many people to thank and I wont try to name all of the here. However some key personnel that made the whole thing happen were Jason Dick, Di Tohey, George Pearse, Greg Smith, Jamie Jones, Travis Cuff, Stewart Evans, Phil Liddiot, John Clancy, Dave Bishop, and from New Zealand the great man himself Mike Williams (NZ) who is retiring this year well done Mike!

A big thank you also must go to all our course boat helpers a cast of thousands! Without them it would not have happened. As well the Gippsland water police the Gippsland port authority and the east Gippsland shire were instrumental in the organising of the event.

At the end of the night the final trophy to be presented was the Trans Tasman Trophy. After two days of hard and fast racing the result came down to less than two minutes overall which is fantastic close racing. At the end of the day New Zealand took back the cup by 144 points in a fine display of ski racing. However I think every one there could not help but think that the true winner was the sport of ski racing itself!

Dave Bishop for Ski Racing Victoria

Some excellent Photos from the event can be found at

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