Safety first: Australia’s biggest water ski event

8 February 2012

Skippers are reminded to be extra cautious when on the Murray River at the weekend when Australia’s biggest water ski race, the Southern 80, takes place.

Roads and Maritime Services Maritime Services Regional Manager Murray/ Inland Scott Kidd said the two-day race, which runs from Torrumbarry to Echuca and covers 80 kilometres, traditionally attracted thousands of spectators to the area.

“Safety – for competitors as well as spectators on the river banks and on water – is of utmost importance,” Mr Kidd said. “There will be a large presence of Boating Safety Officers based on the Murray River for the duration of the event.”

“Boating Safety Officers will also be taking Police on board their patrol boats, and random breath testing will take place during the weekend.”

Mr Kidd said skippers should remember that the blood alcohol limit on the water is the same as on land – 0.05.

“Skiing after sunset is not permitted, and under no circumstances should spectators attempt to cross the section of river where racing is taking place at any time,” Mr Kidd said.

“High speed power vessels and swimmers are a recipe for disaster.”

Skippers should also keep clear of the exclusive use areas that will apply on both days for the safe staging of the event:

Saturday

  • 6am to midday – from Torrumbarry Weir to the 1712km river marker at Victoria Park, Echuca; then
  • midday to 7pm – from the 1690km river marker at Perricoota Marina, Goldsborough Rd, Moama, to the 1712km river markers at Victoria Park, Echuca.

Sunday

  • 6am to 7pm – from the Torrumbarry Weir to the 1712km river marker at the Victoria Park Boat Ramp at Echuca.

Mr Kidd said it was important skippers who were on the water at night ensured they were displaying the appropriate navigation lights for their craft and that they maintained a proper lookout at all times.

“Roads and Maritime Services is also working with houseboat operators in the area to ensure they are aware of exclusion zones and of the potential danger of being on the course during the event,” Mr Kidd said.

“Houseboat operators have been given clear instructions by RMS on how to manage the risks. Anyone requiring further information should get in touch with their local Maritime office.”

Some houseboats had also been repositioned on the section of the Murray where the racing will take place.

Mr Kidd said control vessels will be in place at each end of the course to advise vessel operators of the River closure.
“For safety reasons, occupants of moored vessels are also strongly urged to vacate their vessels during the event, and if they wish to view the race, to do so from shore,” Mr Kidd said.

“Due to the high speeds involved in the event, RMS urges all spectators to exercise extreme caution when near the exclusive use area.”

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