by Bob Wonders
Two of Australia water ski racing’s most popular events have an unavoidable clash of dates next weekends.
Noel Griffin's 'Blazen' wining the 2009 Barrie Beehag - due to the clash of dates, the crew won't be defending the win, choosing instead to take on the Grafton Bridge to Bridge.
The Moama Water Sports Club, together with the Victorian Water Ski Association and Ski Racing Victoria are set stage the Barrie Beehag on the Murray River.
Up north, it’s all systems go for the famous Grafton Bridge to Bridge on the Clarence River.
Both events are highly favoured by Australia’s top competitors.
Reason for clash of dates stems from both races being postponed (the Victorian race was postponed twice) late last year due to unfavourable weather conditions making both rivers too dangerous for competition due to floods.
The 2009 Barrie Beehag winners, Christopher Stout and Grant Turner, who claimed victory won the race behind Noel Griffin’s ‘Blazen’ have reformed and this year will contest the Grafton race.
Many of the Class 1 or Superboat crews have indicated their will contest the Grafton race, among them ‘Stinga’, ‘Hellbent’; and ‘Superman’.
According to Rudi Stout, former ski racer and father of international racers Chris and Trudi, the ‘Blazen’ crew was particularly disappointed with the dates clashing.
'Nevertheless, with the weather issues the sport has had to contend with these past few months there were no alternatives,' he explained.
Latest word on the condition of the two river courses is that both have been approved for racing and ‘good water’ is expected.
Ski racing is facing a particularly busy year with the 2011 World championships set for Brisbane’s Moreton Bay, September 10-17.
Australia’s top ski race competitors have been involved already in lead up races as selectors begin the process of choosing the national teams in Men’s, Women’s and age classes.
Following the Grafton and Barrie Beehag races, attention again moves south to Victoria with more team selection races scheduled for February 26-27.
With only three to be selected to wear the green and gold in each class, competition is expected to be fierce as the nation’s top exponents race for international honours.
Some, of course, will be seeking to add to an already impressive resume’.
The brother-sister Stout team, Chris and Trudi, has already tasted international success.
Chris Stout was Men’s Junior World champion in 2003 and followed that up when he claimed Men’s Formula 2 crown in 2007.
Trudi Stout will also be chasing her second World crown hoping to add the 2011 Women’s Formula 2 title to go with her 2007 victory.
The Australian ski racing fraternity is keenly anticipating the World championships.
Australia has hosted the event four times previously, but this will be the first for Queensland.
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