It’s always refreshing to learn of another racing event that began with a bet. Down in Australia in 1981, two dinghy pilots wagered over which one was the fastest, and a grand prix style speedboat race through Aussie backwaters was born.
What’s a dinghy? In this context, it’s a 10-foot aluminum boat with a 10 or even 30 horsepower outboard used to navigate crocodile infested waters. Racers reach 80 kph over the 90 kilometer course, which runs through the Murray River Basin in southwestern Australia.
To control the boats at such speeds, each boat needs a two-man team with one designated as the swinger, whose main purpose is to ballast the little boat, which without him would simply flip at the bow and go tumbling through the air. We would have enjoyed witnessing the dinghy fails that gave way to the swinger position. Of course, flipping means more than losing the race as there are crocodiles in the water down there.
This extreme dinghy racing event is run by the Riverland Dinghy Club, and has become a cult classic, attracting 60 teams from across Australia. Of course, the locals are the heavies in this sport.
If you’re game, you too can pilot a near zero-displacement boat at 80 kph through shallow, twisted waters, dodging submerged logs and trees, crocs and other hazards, all the while working not to flip and break apart. Of course, full face protection and helmets are mandatory. Perhaps a psychiatric evaluation should be as well?