Now For Something Completely Different: Redbull’s 2015 Riverland Dinghy Derby

Competitors (AUS) - Action

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.

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Kevin Shaw

Editor-in-Chief – Kevin Shaw is a decade-long powersports and automotive journalist whose love for things that go too fast has led him to launching The Watercraft Journal. Almost always found with stained hands and dirt under his fingernails, Kevin has an eye for the technical while keeping a eye out for beautiful photography and a great story.


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  1. Roger Berkon 27 February, 2015 at 09:38 Reply

    … sponsored by Redbull (y’know the guys who still won’t touch jet ski racing with a 10-foot pole) –
    Why, will Red Bull not sponsor jet ski racing, Kevin? This is NOT a challenge but a legitimate question that deserves an answer from Watercraft Journal or equivalent industry source… as we ALL know the opportunity for ‘commercial-partnership’ is huge .

    • Kevin Shaw 27 February, 2015 at 09:44 Reply

      That is a very good question, Roger.

      I’ve talked with a couple execs at Redbull who have personally advocated support of US racing, and Redbull has shown “little to no” interest in the sport. I can only extrapolate as to their core reasoning, but I was told because “nobody cares”, which although sounding terribly harsh is really a reflection on 1) PWC racing’s public presence in the pop culture (there’s little to none), and 2) PWC racing’s public spectator draw, which is also marginal except for a couple rare venues.

      Arguably, we have a case of “the chicken and the egg” as Redbull’s promotional strength to immediately bring in huge spectator numbers were they to go out on a limb and support racing. But Monster Energy reported continual losses during their time supporting the World Finals, and other non-endemic companies like McGraw Insurance reported minimal returns as well.

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