King of the river

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It’s a sign that summer is almost here when the Yamaha Rollo’s Marine Bridge to Bridge Water Ski Classic takes place.

Now in its 32nd year, this year’s event, featuring New Zealand’s top water ski racers is being held on Waikato River from November 27-29.

With seven components, the pinnacle is the Long Race; an 82km flat out sprint, against the clock from Cambridge to Taupiri and back to Hamilton.

This race attracts the best ski racers from North and South Islands as well as competitive Australians, making the trip for the quality competition and the unique challenges created by swirling currents of the Waikato River.

The Bridge to Bridge and Twin Rivers (a race from Ngatea, out to the Firth of Thames, then to Paeroa) are being run as a “Super Series” with the overall winner of the two events crowned King of the Rivers 2015.

waterskiersCurrent King of the Rivers champions are local skiers Perry Jamieson and Hayden Gunn (pictured). They will be defending their title, but face stiff competition from Australians who are making the trip across the ditch to compete both events behind one of the fastest boats in the country.

“We’re extremely excited about the prospects of this year’s race and firmly believe this will be the biggest and best Bridge to Bridge ever, thanks to our amazing group of sponsors and our dedicated and enthusiastic competitors,” says Paul Hammond, chairperson of the Bridge to Bridge organising committee.

“It’s a super event both for spectators and participants.”

Kicking off with the Show & Shine at the Kingsgate Hotel (a static display of the hottest powerboats competing), there’s endless action with novice, masters and sub juniors events as well as a ski biscuit race and a family and social class event (20km ski on a slalom ski or wakeboard from Ngaruawahia to Hamilton).

Saturday afternoon’s time trial gives spectators their first opportunity to see the ‘big boys’ in action, determining competitors seeding for Sunday’s main event which kicks off on Sunday at 1pm.

boatThe last event on Saturday afternoon is the Poker Run, an event that can be enjoyed by any boat owner. This involves a fun cruise up the river with stops along the way to collect cards which are submitted as a poker hand.

This is not a race, as the last boat to the finish line could end up taking the main prize. There are plenty of spot prizes just for turning up and putting the boat in the water – and just remember that boat could be anything from an aluminium dingy to the Queen Mary.

Sunday morning brings the Powerboat Sprints, Thundercats and Jetskis, all bringing the action for fast and competitive racing. There will be a turbine powered jet boat capable of speeds in excess of 200km/h.

The main event kicks off at 1pm Sunday. The start at Cambridge will be broadcast to big screens at Grantham Street boat ramp and the Ann Street reserve. You’ll most likely hear these boats long before you see them – the top boats will tow two skiers at speeds in excess of 160 km/h.

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