Don Gulley and his team proved they truly are the kings of the Murray River after taking out the 2016 Barrie Beehag ski race (postponed from November last year due to high water levels and racing conditions) on Saturday.
Despite a cooler-than-usual temperature for the Beehag, the reigning Southern 80 champions Merc Force (picture above as Merc Force comes belting towards the finish line (see picture above) recorded the fastest overall time of 21:45.69 to win the superclass.
Along with its win in the Mildura 100 this has made the 2016/17 season one of Merc Force’s most successful in terms of the river classics.
The team raced an outstanding first leg of 10:54.0 to improve on its start position of second and take off from first place in the return.
Gulley with observer Kevin Boylan and skiers Jake Tegart and Kris Knights had an even smoother run home to record a time of 10:51.69 and finish 30 second ahead of second placed The Mistress.
The local Echuca-Moama team, driver Leo Welch, observer Brian Griffin and skiers Dylan Stevenson and Jake Vanzetta, fought its way from third position to finish just behind Merc Force.
Sapphire had begun the race in prime position, but was slow in the first leg to finish third overall in 22:53.31 while 99 Psycho Clowns rounded off the superclass to finish fourth (23:05.13).
With 110 boats at the start line it was going to be a big day — but only eight didn’t make the finish of the 60km race from Deep Creek Marina to Torrumbarry Weir and back.
Mercury Rising, with Tongala driver Shaun Tomkins and observer Garry McConnell, won the SMOC class in 27:50.38 towing Andrew Martin and Christopher Maher.
An Echuca team — Coojac Racing — took out the 200mph outboard.
The unlimited class was won by Pigs Arsenal, with Chris Stevens driving, Mark Boyer observing and they were towing brothers Sean and Jack Stevens, XS Cash won the 8 litre inboard, Temper 2 was victorious in the under-19 class, and Top Shot took out the sub junior class.
In the 70mph class the top three place getters all broke the old record time, with Nailed hammering home its advantage to now having ‘race record’ etched next to its name.
Head Hunter was successful in the 60mph class, smashing its own record with a sizzling 35:06.57 while the Cartledge family, racing out of Echuca finished in 38:50.42 with Kausin Trouble.