Australians have a way of making normal, good ol’ American redneck fun look like a legitimate sport. Take for example hauling over 55mph on a flat-bottomed aluminum fishing dinghy through a densely wooded marsh rife with poisonous snakes, toothy crocodiles and razor-sharp driftwood? Sounds like a suicide mission, right? Well, it’s been a source of endless smiles for southern Australians charging the local rivers around Renmark.
Yet, it wasn’t until 1981 when the Riverland Dinghy Derby actually gelled into an actual competition. Sure, it was a bet between two mates to see who was the fastest, but since that day, the Derby has become one of the premier events in South Australia, attracting competitors from as far away as Western Australia. This year – sponsored by Redbull (y’know the guys who still won’t touch jet ski racing with a 10-foot pole) – the Derby welcomed over 60 boats who competed over 62 miles of creeks, rivers and…well, rocks.
Something like aquatic rally racing, the Derby is a spectacle to witness and therefore such a smash hit. Spectators line the swampy waterfront to watch these high horsepower skiffs slide and drift around tree stumps and sandbars at top speed with only a navigator and pilot on board. No seats, no seatbelts, no nada. This year was particularly special as JetPilot’s own Kyle Pfitzner and Ryleigh Pfitzner paired up to take the win. Yeah, we know. This ain’t PWC racing. But we think we might’ve finally seen a solid use for the Alumaski.