Southern 80 - Echuca

The Southern 80 has evolved over many years to become the world class event it is today.
Southern 80 - Echuca

Initially Echuca hosted a marathon event held over 522 miles in 1964.

In 1965 it was divided into two events; the Murray Ski Marathon over 500 miles as well as a shorter 100 mile race.

That year the race even attracted two air boats which could power through shallow water at up to 60mph and on flat land for short distances.

In 1974 the Moama Water Sports Club was formed. By 1975 the event was named the Southern 80 Ski Trial, was held in February for the first time and 47 teams were entered.

The event was well established by 1981 when 103 teams took part with one of the competing teams consisting of six year old Aaron Johnson and eleven year old Brett Sands. The Memorial trophy for the outright winner is presented in memory of Aaron’s father Leigh.

By 1983 the event was getting pretty serious with the honours going to $50,000 “Aquaholic” which was beaten the following year by a mere .06/sec by stoic campaigner the now late Ted Hurley.

The 35 minute barrier was broken by Island Cooler in ’89 and again in driving rain in 1990.

The 34 minute barrier was smashed in 1992 by Thundernuts towing 17 year olds Brett Dominguez and Steve Morley.

Cairns boat Gotta Be Crazy travelled 3300kms to score a historic double by being the first boat to win the Bakers Blitz and the Southern 80 in 1993.

God’s Gift shot to glory when it won the Blitz and broke the record in 1995 only to see the record broken again by Gotta be Crazy in 1996 with a time of 32:33.

Not to be outdone, the God’s Gift team snared the elusive double in 1998, with an average speed of 168.35kmh, this time taking out the Blitz with a time of 7:08 and smashing the record for the Southern 80 with a time of 32:02 to take out not only the Leigh Johnson Memorial Trophy but also the jackpotted American Hotel record breakers cheque again, this time for $3000.

Although the Southern 80 has grown bigger and faster it is still a family affair with classes for everyone from the under 10 Tadpoles to the over 40 Veterans.

The Southern 80 has evolved to become one of the world’s greatest ski races … and it’s a lot of fun.