TWO skiers and a boat driver in high-profile Southern 80 boat Nailed had a lucky escape after their boat rolled, narrowly avoiding a partly submerged tree on the NSW side of the Murray yesterday morning.
The boat had swung on a bend near Cadell on the Murray Motel Resort on Perricoota Rd to avoid a Malibu coming in the opposite direction and on the wrong side of the river.
Both skiers escaped injury but the driver was taken to Echuca hospital with chest pains.
After the boat hit the fallen tree it flipped and sank.
No-one else was injured in the accident but NSW maritime police closed the section of river while investigations were carried out and the submerged boat refloated.
Nailed owner Leigh Thomas, who was also in the boat, said their 2018 Southern 80 campaign went down along with the boat — and his mobile phone.
“We were doing a practice run at about 50km/h when we had to move for another boat,” Mr Thomas said.
“After that another boat came up in front of us, so we had to swerve hard and that has rolled us over,” he said.
“Our driver has gone into hospital to be checked out, but he doesn’t seem to be too badly injured.
‘‘Fortunately everyone else involved was OK.”
Leanne Jones, whose husband Anthony was driving at the time of the accident, said she was grateful the driver of that boat was suffciently experienced to get out of the way and and also avoid the Malibu.
‘‘Anthony has now been discharged from hospital with concussion, minor spinal injury and severe bruising — there were the two skiers but they and the observer are fine,’’ she said.
‘‘We would also like to thank the people in the Malibu for their quick thinking and assistance at the time.’’
Mr Thomas was philosophical about the accident and his team’s wrecked Southern 80 chances.
His boat came second in the social 70mph in the 2017 race and holds the record for 60mph Expert class – set in the 2016 race.
“We all have the right to be out on the water, as long as we all abide by the rules of the river,” he said.
“It was a situation where we were probably late to go down the river for practice as we wanted to go when visibility was better.
“We just got caught in a bad situation, I don’t believe it was anybody’s fault, we were just all in a bad position at the wrong time.”
Fortunately, there was no obvious damage to the boat.
“But it’s a bit wet, although as far as we can tell there isn’t any major damage to the boat, and that is some good news to come out of this.
“Sadly our Southern 80 plans are non-existent now.
“Just making sure the boat is fine and that we are all safe and sound is our priority.”
The accident sparked a storm of comments online — from people supporting boaties on the river to those who want them gone.