Racing for a Win at the Mildura 100
The GTS Freight Management Mildura 100 is considered the fastest ski race on the planet. The many long, wide straights on this section of the Murray combined with the fact the race is broken into two halves, means that this race sees speeds across all classes that other events can’t match. Given the unique qualities of this great race your preparation and race strategy should be adjusted to suit the conditions you will be facing.
Without the corners and turns that skiers encounter during races such as the Southern 80 and Robinvale this race is grueling on every muscle in your legs, hands and neck. These muscle groups are put to the test without many chances to relax and stretch out during a slow turn or corner. In the lead up to the race, neck and hand exercises are important on top of your normal leg and fitness routine.
To strengthen my neck, I simply lie flat on my back across the bed, but with my head extended off the mattress, hovering over the ground. It looks simple and feels easy at first but after a few minutes you’ll feel the muscles working and burning, giving a similar sensation to how it feels to hold your head up in the wind drag while skiing. Try this two or three nights a week for around 15 minutes in the weeks leading up to the event. With the neck being a small muscle group you’ll see results fast.
For hands, particularly my back hand I use a pair of old fashioned hand squeeze exercisers to pump the muscles in my forearm and hand. You should be able to pick up a pair from a sports shop. Alternatively use a squash ball or tennis ball and squeeze and release your hand for as long as you can.
It’s important before any race to check over your ski, looking for damage. Any chips or dents will create drag which will affect you a lot more in a river race like Mildura than a rough water race. If you come across a chip in your ski, you can use some two-part epoxy to fill the cavity then rub back with sandpaper until it is nice and smooth again.
A graphite paint application to the underside and edges of your race ski is a popular and wise upgrade for skiers who are competing at speeds upwards of 85mph. As you ski faster, drag can become an inhibiting factor, reducing a skiers tolerance for speed. The graphite paint coating reduces friction between your ski and the water, hence reducing drag.
Check your fin for damage and ensure it is sitting straight in your ski. It may have been damaged or bent in your last race without you realising it. Fins are often damaged in transit and storage as well. Consider upgrading to a stainless steel fin prior to the race as the SS fins are far superior to those made from alloy and are designed to retain their shape on impact with debris in the water.
(For more info on graphite paint, fins and ski repairs, contact Zig’s Marine).
It is common practice now to use harnesses lined with rubber and to have rubber added to the outside of your wetsuit around where your harness wraps. This works very well when it is new, taking the load off your back hand as the two rubbers grip together. However, over time, the rubber loses it’s stick through both wear and residue build up. To improve the performance of the rubber again, use some thinners or acetone on a rag to remove any build up, then wipe over with a clean rag and this will help the rubbers stick again.
Use the Half Way Stop to Your Benefit
It’s important during the first half of the race to ski as if you are racing to the finish line. Don’t leave anything in the tank for the return leg because you have a lengthy break at half way to re-group, re-fuel and re-charge. Once you are at half way go for a jog or a walk and do some stretching, keep your muscles warm and moving yet relaxed.
Team Hell is very lucky to have the wonderful Tracey Cranny on hand at half way with eskys full of healthy snacks and drinks. If you are not lucky enough to have such a wonderful person like Tracey taking care of you, you’ll need to pack your own snacks and liquids for half way. Use this stop as an opportunity to refuel for the return leg. Have at least a sandwich and a couple of bottles of water during this time.
Ensure you pack some extra skiers tape for half way, your tape won’t be doing the job it’s meant to after such a lengthy stop and so re-taping is a must. I also always carry an extra pair of goggles and a fin to safeguard against minor incidents that could as affect the second half of the race. At half way I’ll give my goggles a once over with Plexus cleaner, which cleans the lens and disperses water away from the lens while skiing.
The Return Leg
It’s now up to you and your crew, if you’ve put in the preparation and looked after yourself at half way, you’ve given yourself the best chance for a great and safe race.
Good luck to all the crews competing at this year’s Mildura 100, enjoy your weekend away and stay safe.