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New world record set in waters off Tasmania's west coast

by Felicity Ogilvie on 28 Jan 2012
Water skiers break world record off Tasmania’s west coast Mark Seaton
There has been a new world record set on the waters off Tasmania's west coast. One hundred and forty five water skiers converged on the West Coast town of Strahan to test the record for the largest number of water skiers to be towed behind a boat.

And this morning they succeeded - breaking their own world record, set in the same place two years ago.

Felicity Ogilvie reports from Hobart.

Felicity Ogilvie: Water skier Lynne Bennett is one of 145 people who've set a new world record on Macquarie Harbour at Strahan this morning.

Lynne Bennett: We couldn't say anything other than awesome, absolutely awesome. Every attempt has been awesome but today, just with the blue sky and the sun on your back and the calm water, everything just felt right. It was just perfect.

Felicity Ogilvie: Mrs Bennett's husband and three children also took part in the world record water ski.

The youngest person on the water this morning was 12, the oldest 60.

The 145 skiers had to work together as a team, staying upright behind the boat for at least one nautical mile in order to set the record for the most amount of skiers to be towed behind a boat.

Lynne Bennett: They just encourage each other all the time and you crash into each other and your skies get wrapped up and your skies end up on top of each others but you just hear everyone saying it's fine, we'll do it, we'll do it. We can do this. Don't worry about it and the skies just come apart off each other and it just happens.

Felicity Ogilvie: The group has broken its own world record that was set in the same place two years ago. This time 31 more people were towed behind the boat.

Guy Grining is the co-owner of World Heritage Cruises and he says the boat that usually takes tourists up the river was modified for the world record attempt.

Felicity Ogilvie: It is powered by 1,550 horsepower diesels. The propellers were set up for the boat to cruise along at about 26 knots which it does so we have put our spare set of propellers on and we had them depitched which means we are able to get some more revs from the engine so the engine actually can produce its horsepower so that way we could tow more skiers and it towed them quite easily. It pulled them out of the water four times faster.

Felicity Ogilvie: It took 25 seconds for the skiers to be pulled out of the water this morning. Their ropes were connected to a custom made boom that was mounted on the back of the boat.

One of the water skiers, Greg Hind, describes how a crane was used to place the boom onto the boat.

Greg Hind: This morning we had the 220 tonne crane and even though the boom weighs less than a tonne, we need such a large crane because of the amount of reach. Eagle needs to be floating in deep water so we had a crane sitting on the back which had to reach right out into Macquarie Harbour so that we could load the boom on the side of the boat.

Felicity Ogilvie: And how expensive has it been to build this boom?

Greg Hind: Over the years the committee has had more than $100,000 spent on all of our attempts. Including in-kind support from our sponsors and all of the work that everybody has put in, we estimate we are up well over a million dollars.

Felicity Ogilvie: The boom has been taken off the boat, and even though it was an hour late for its regular cruise this morning, the boat is now taking tourists up to the Gordon River.

One of the event's main organisers, Nick Wilson, says the idea of the world record attempt was formed years ago while watching tourists cruise along Macquarie Harbour.

Nick Wilson: Back in the mid-70s there were a group of us in the Gordon River having a holiday up there fishing and skiing and one of the cruise boats came past and we chased it up the river on our water skies and we couldn't catch up to it and we laughed and said I wonder how many people that boat would tow and that was about the time the Cairns Water Ski Club set the record at 100 in I think it was 1975 and it has been a bit of an idea since then.

Felicity Ogilvie: The water skiers will now send documents and photos off to the Guinness Book of Records in order to have the achievement officially recognised.

Tanya Nolan: Felicity Ogilvie reporting.
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