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From a Dream to a World Record

For 2010 the boat owners, boat builders and boat designer all came on board to design and manufacture a professional, high strength, 60 metre aluminium boom which was to be fitted to the back of the $5.2 million boat.

Sourcing the specialist aluminium material and arranging construction became a priority. The cost was three times any previous attempt and time was running out to raise sufficient funds. Skiers were asked to contribute $200 each – 5 times any previous amount – but this still left the budget at least $20,000 short.

Three months out, a major sponsor, who had offered to construct the all important boom free of charge, had to withdraw. This left the dual challenges of finding a suitable manufacturer who could fit a boom construction into their Christmas schedule and finding the additional funds to pay them. Both challenges were met with only weeks to spare.

Over the Christmas period 160 skiers from throughout the state travelled to the Horsehead Water Ski Club site at Lake Barrington for a third round of testing and training. From these sessions a final 124 starting skiers were selected. Another 6km of completely new rope was air freighted to Tasmania from overseas. 50 people worked for 2 days in the construction of new ropes which involved over 1000 splices.

In early January a team of 6 people travelled to Strahan for a weekend to attach fittings to the boat. Because of its cruise commitments, the boat was only available between 9.00pm and 7.00 am and the team worked throughout the two nights to drill and tap over 70 holes in the luxury boat. Great trust was shown by the boat owners who were 300km away in Hobart at the time.

In readiness for the event in late January a rope specialist and a naval engineer were flown in from New South Wales and a $1.5 million dollar crane travelled 5 hours to Strahan to help. The team then spent 3 days assembling the boom, working until 3.00am one night to fit it on and off the boat. Friday night the boom was refitted to the boat in readiness for the arrival of skiers.

The fifth attempt early Saturday morning saw 85 skiers successfully cross the finish line after traveling the required nautical mile – 15 short of the record. The boat resumed its daytime passenger cruise whilst skiers re-grouped for a 6th attempt late in the afternoon.

After re- fitting the boom and running out the 6km of rope yet again the team crossed the line with an agonizing 99 skiers upright – 1 short of the record.

With the aid of 100’s of volunteers and dozens of boats, the skiers, skis and 120 ropes were retrieved, transported back to the beach and within 2 hours everything was re-positioned for a 7th attempt. Unfortunately failing light forced the attempt to be abandoned at the very last minute.

Water conditions made an attempt on the Sunday impossible and the team again left Strahan unsuccessful.

In March the entire team re-assembled yet again at Strahan. The rope specialist and naval architect arrived from Sydney, helicopters flew in, the crane driver travelled another 5 hours, owners towed in their pickup boats and jet skis and the support crew transported 240 skis, 60 m of boom, 130 handles and 6km of rope. Skiers travelled from all over the state, a few flew in from Queensland and one even returned for the second time from England - just for the weekend.

By now the weather temperatures were dropping and early Saturday morning, when the 124 skiers entered the water, the air temperature was 5 degrees. The water near the beach was relatively calm but the waves increased in size as the skiers skied out into Macquarie Harbour. The 7th attempt finished with 97 skiers still standing.

After waiting all day for the boat to return from its passenger run the boom was again fitted to the boat. The wind was slowly dropping but the days were now shorter and before the water had calmed sufficiently, the deadline to allow enough daylight for attempt number eight was passed.

On the morning of Sunday March 28th, 2010 on their 8th attempt the group lead by the Horsehead Water Ski Club and supported by other Tasmanian water ski clubs, 100s of volunteers and dozens of generous sponsors, finally achieved their goal: 114 skiers crossed the finish line.

The world record of 100 (set by Cairns and District Power Boat & Ski Club) had stood for 24 years. During that time five other groups from around the globe had tried unsuccessfully to break it.

Tasmania had taken on the world and finally set a new World Record.

2010 Highlights

Yet another boom was built.

The 5th attempt saw 85 skiers successfully cross the finish line– 15 short of the record of 100.

The 6th attempt ended with 99 skiers crossing the line - an agonizing 1 short of the record!

Two months later a 7th attempt saw 97 skiers finish.

On their 8th attempt the group lead by the Horsehead Water Ski Club finally achieved their goal: 114 skiers crossed the finish line.

The world record of 100 had stood for 24 years.
During that time six other groups from around the globe had tried unsuccessfully to break it.

1000 people had contributed over 10 000 man hours over 5 years. In a spirit of determination Tasmania’s Water Skiers had taken on the world and finally set a new World Record.

"I had to see it to believe it! Fascinating. What a collective effort by so many silent heroes. Since 1986, numerous clubs have attempted to get over 100 skiers up and going behind one vessel. Apparently, the process took several days to accomplish, an impressive set of booms engineered by the Horsehead companies own personnel and "tough and determined skiers" from all over Australia. Huge investment on the odd likelihood they'd git-r-dun.

I am ranking this as one of my favorite skiing success stories of all times. Let me guess, it was probably cold at the time (added degree of difficulty). I will buy my first Guiness Book just to share this human-interest story with friends, skiers and future generations to come... "

Willie P. Farrell - comment posted on