Merc proves a Force to be reckoned with

February 13, 2018

Replicating the feat: Merc Force claimed back -to-back Southern 80 wins on Sunday.

Merc Force made it back-to-back Southern 80 wins on Sunday, racing the second-fastest time in event history to blitz the field.

In a time of 30:08, it fell 25 seconds short of the record, but that’s not what mattered to the team.

‘‘It was a great time,’’ driver Don Gulley said straight after the race.

‘‘The result was reflective of the position really, we worked hard in the Bakers Blitz on Saturday to make sure we were in a position to come out first and set us up well.

‘‘We drove every inch of that race; we took every opportunity we had to make sure we produced our best time.’’

After the win, Gulley was ecstatic.

‘‘We are back in the penthouse now,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s come about by a lot of little things going right. The boat has to be right, the competitors have to be right physically and mentally. The upside of racing this event a number of times is that we now know how to prepare and go about getting these things right.

‘‘We come down and practice the river more than we used to, now we know how it moves and how we should take on the course accordingly.’’

Superman came second with Pigs Arsenal in third.

But completing a banner weekend for the Merc Force team was its F1 entry breaking the long-standing Open Women’s Expert class record.

Echuca’s Chelsea Blight had been chasing the record time of 34 minutes and 21 seconds, set in 2003, for the past five years.

And skiing behind Merc Force F1 with new teammate Maddison Boyer, the crew finally did it.

‘‘Look it’s surreal — we were hoping to beat the record and were hoping to beat it by five or maybe 10 seconds, so to beat it by a minute and five seconds (was great),’’ Blight said.

Her teammate and fellow skier-to-be-put-in-the-records, Boyer said like it is in any team sport, consistency was a vital part of their successful run.

‘‘Consistency in a team is key really, it’s amazing how much you can do when you know your partner well,’’ she said.

‘‘Even when I got (some calls) wrong we still got it done which was great.’’

Blight said the race had to be perfect if the title was to be claimed.

‘‘Over the years we knew that we could achieve it, and it was more things that happened to us on the course (that prevented winning earlier), whether that be catching another boat or engine failure or something,’’ she said.

‘‘So for us it was about making sure we had a perfect run.’’

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