Knowing the river, knowing what corners you can go into and how fast you can go into them are advantages Andrew Stevenson is looking to exploit.By Zach Hubber
Defending 8 litre expert champion Super Slak Racing will be looking to go back-to-back when driver Andrew Stevenson’s team takes to the Murray River on Sunday afternoon.
It is the boat’s second season and according to Stevenson, it runs like a ‘‘little rocket ship’’.
But as important as speed will be to claiming a second 8 litre title, local knowledge could prove more valuable.
‘‘It’s definitely an advantage,’’ Stevenson said.
‘‘Knowing the river, knowing what corners you can go into, how fast you can go into them, setting up for the corners and picking the right lines, it’s all an advantage.
‘‘That can be the difference between two and three seconds, between winning and losing.
‘‘Knowing the river is a small advantage and you have to take every advantage you can get.’’
Stevenson and his son, Dylan, were out practising on the river on Wednesday morning to iron out the final preparations for the weekend.
The duo will again be joined by Dylan’s fellow skier Cameron Mitchell, while Glenn Berry will observe once more.
The team will combine for one run before the Southern 80, with Stevenson saying the continuity of his team was another important aspect to success.
‘‘I think having that connection is good,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s not just the driver driving as hard as he can or the skiers skiing as well as they can, you need an observer in there to keep an eye on the boys and keep them up as well.
‘‘The longer you can keep that same team up and together, the stronger that team’s going to be because it’s a team sport.’’
Stevenson moved to Echuca-Moama 30 years ago from Alexandra near Lake Eildon.
An electrical contractor by trade, Stevenson relocated for work and a change in lifestyle, which included skiing on the river.
Having skied all his life, Stevenson started racing five years ago in support of Dylan, who was skiing behind different boats and sometimes struggling to get a tow.
‘‘I was sort of getting interested in racing, so I thought I’d get a boat and have a crack at it,’’ Stevenson said.
‘‘I do whatever I can to keep the bills down, but Leo Nankervis from Bendigo, he looks after anything that’s a bit too technical for me to do.
‘‘We bought the SpeedMaster hull from Queensland and Leo came up with the idea of putting a twin turbo Toyota in it, which is a little bit different.’’
Stevenson said he had issues with the boat early on but was impressed with where it was at.
‘‘We’ve had a few teething problems with it to start off with, like lots of teething problems,’’ he said.
‘‘But that’s all sorted now and it’s been super reliable and we’ve been winning nearly everything so far.
‘‘I just hope we can keep pushing along like that.’’
Pushing along would mean another 8 litre expert title and a top 10 outright finish.
‘‘We’ve competed in about three or four (Southern 80s) and we’ve never done any good until last year with this boat, when we won the 8 litre,’’ Stevenson said.
‘‘Whether we can do it or not, we’ll definitely give it our best shot.
‘‘But the whole thing of it is to have fun. If we get beat, bad luck, we’ve had some fun.’’
When asked what the best thing about competing in the Southern 80 was, Stevenson said: ‘‘Just trying to get to the other end. Finishing is a great feeling because it’s a team sport and you get to share that feeling.’’
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