Echuca's Leo Welch will rekindle old memories of his Southern 80 triumph with Island Cooler when he competes in tomorrow's veterans event with Jamie Oliver.GEORDIE COWAN February 8, 2013 4:49am
Two in a row for Island Cooler — the successful team of (from left) Dennis Rowbottom, Leo Welch, Jamie Oliver and Damian Matthews in 1990.
It has been 23 years since Leo Welch won his second Southern 80 as an observer with Island Cooler and he will experience a reunion of sorts in veteran over 40s tomorrow.
While Welch and skier Jamie Oliver are the only two remaining members of the original team, joining them in the Sealord Mistress team will be skier Nathan Glynn, who came through the sport at the same time as Oliver.
Chris Gelle will be the observer in Sealord Mistress.
‘‘We won it in 1989 and 1990. Now it’s 2013, so it’s a fairly big step around,’’ Welch said.
‘‘We picked Jamie up when he was 16 or 17 and he won his first Southern 80 when he was 18.
‘‘Nathan was more opposition than anything, but I’m still keen to carry them in vets.’’
His time with Island Cooler was an enjoyable one for Welch, as the team smashed the Southern 80 record in consecutive years, reducing the time by almost two minutes with the legendary Dennis Rowbottom in the driver’s seat.
‘‘He was a fearless driver. Well in control, but absolutely fearless,’’ Welch said of Rowbottom.
‘‘Sometimes it wasn’t the quickest boat, but he drove it the hardest of anyone else out there and the boys on the back did a very good job.
‘‘We took minutes off the record. They always said 36 wouldn’t be broken and now they’re down to 30 minutes and that might topple this year, who knows.
‘‘But Island Cooler, in its day, was a sensational boat.
‘‘The first to win the King of the Murray, Dennis was unstoppable as a driver.’’
Having the chance to compete with Oliver again was a chance to bring back some of those memories, Welch said.
‘‘Jamie lives in Sydney now but you’re always mates,’’ he said.
‘‘Just like when you win a grand final together, you’ve always got that bond.
‘‘That’ll never be broken. It doesn’t matter who you’re skiing with.
‘‘Jamie will be my opponent on Sunday and we will be going head-to-head to try and beat each other, but on Saturday we’ll be doing our very best to win that class.’’
Winning it will be no easy task though with many high quality competitors in the field.
Top Gun won the veterans last year, while The Syndicate poses a real threat with Kevin Vahtrik and Danny Cropper behind the Gary Rudd-driven boat.
‘‘The Syndicate boys, they’ve got the runs on the board, although Top Gun won last year,’’ Welch said.
‘‘But Syndicate, they’ve run down in sub-seven minutes.
‘‘Cropper and Vahti are two very good skiers and the Syndicate boat is just purpose built for this course.
‘‘I think the first three or four crews, it’ll be a toss of the coin.
‘‘I’d love nothing better than to win vets with those two blokes.
‘‘They are super competitive. They won a Sydney Bridge to Bridge together (and a Southern 80 behind God’s Gift in 1995).
‘‘I’m quite excited for it.’’
BREAKING: An operation led by Wangaratta Crime Investigation Unit has seen 13 people arrested this morning for drug and gun offences.
A 2001 Holden Commodore utility was stolen from Barry Dickson Paint and Panel in Broadway Street, Cobram with thieves cutting through a cyclone mesh perimeter fence to gain entry to the yard.
Heather Donaldson was re-elected president of Tatura Hospital Ladies Auxiliary at the annual general meeting on Thursday, which was attended by 33 people.
MORE than 100 Moama Anglican Grammar School students brought Wonderland to life in their recent school production of Disney’s Alice in Wonderland.
FOOTBALL star Jake Edwards presented Rochester Secondary College Year 7 and 8 students with life-long lessons he has experienced first-hand.
Unlucky truck driver collides with service station roof
A chance discovery in a Nagambie park has possibly prevented a serious injury.
It was a close call, but Finley walked away with the four points after a tough slog at Cobram on Saturday.
LIFESAVERS are not always the people wearing yellow and red standing on a beach.
Police are seeking information about a distinctive orange ute, believed to have been stolen in Cobram between Monday night and Tuesday morning.
Coach happy with Rams’ efforts at home.
A group of landholders who brought a civil case against Goulburn-Murray Water over the degrading of farm land through rising salinity have been told they can’t pursue the claim.
The News magazines are online - read the high quality magazines in your time. Check in regularly for latest editions.
Riverine Herald's well regarded locally produced magazines. They're now online, so you can read them whenever and wherever you like.
Search for published and unpublished photos from McPherson Media Group newspapers and magazines. All our photos are available to purchase.
Place an advertisement in any one of McPherson Media Group's local newspapers.