A stunning strip of Brisbane Water near Drifters Wharf at Gosford will be abuzz with activity from November 9-19 when competitors from around the world put their waterskiing prowess to the test at the IWWF 2023 World Waterski Racing Championships.
Member for Gosford Liesl Tesch said the 10-day event would give Coasties and visitors the opportunity to witness the thrill and adrenaline of world-class waterski racing.
“It was a real coup when the Central Coast hosted the Australian Team Qualifying Selection Races and it’s fantastic for the Coast to be the destination for the waterskiing community’s ‘best of the best’ – along with their friends, families and teams in Gosford,” she said.
World Waterski Racing Championships Chairperson Stewart Smith said the Championships were a brilliant opportunity to showcase the natural beauty of the Brisbane Water, which had been “so under-utilised for so many years”.
“It’s such a great opportunity for the local community to appreciate the beauty of their waterfront and highlight Gosford to the world,” he said.
One of those taking to the water will be Hawkesbury River local and fourth generation waterskier Nellie McMillan.
The 19-year-old is the current IWWF Junior Girls World Champion and will be competing in the Open Women’s category for the first time when the competition begins on November 9.
“In the Open Women’s Class I’m hoping to come away with the World Title,” she said.
“I’m both nervous and excited to give the Open Women’s World Title a crack here on home soil.”
McMillan competed against the world’s best waterskiers back in 2019 as a junior competitor in the World Waterski Racing Championships in Vichy, France.
“This represents a big step up for me, coming straight from the Junior Class, and it’s an amazing opportunity,” she said.
The Hawkesbury River has been McMillan’s home all her life and she describes herself as having waterskiing in her blood.
“I’m so fortunate to have the Hawkesbury River as my very own backyard,” she said.
McMillan first jumped onboard a waterski at Budgewoi Lake at Toukley when she was just five.
“I’m a fourth generation waterskier and my family has been competing all their lives,” she said.
“I have raced at Lake Budgewoi at Toukley for over 12 years now and I absolutely love travelling up to race around on the lake five weekends a year.
“My mum and dad have been crazy passionate waterskiers all their lives.
“My great grandmother, Mary McMillan, is a legend of the sport.
“She competed in the 112-kilometre Bridge to Bridge Ski Race on the Hawkesbury 50 times in a row and at the age of 82 she completed her last Bridge to Bridge.
“With role models like my great grandmother, there are definitely no questions about where my determination and passion for ski racing originates from.
“There is so much to love.
“There is a strong sense of family – and community – in the waterskiing fraternity.
“There aren’t many sports that allow you to travel with your entire family – my dad David drives the boat!”
In the 2023 IWWF World Waterski Racing Championships, competitors will race four times over 10 days in classes including Open Men and Women, Formula 2 Men and Women, Junior Boys and Girls.
The World Champion title is awarded to the skier obtaining the most points from three out of the four races in each class.
McMillan said the Gosford course was an ideal testing ground for all kinds of skiers’ abilities.
“As far as bodies of water go it can be very difficult to read,” she said.
“If it’s cloudy, the water could be dead smooth.
“If it’s windy it could be the roughest body of water you’ve ever seen.
“The competition ground at Brisbane Water is a great venue because it provides so many different types of water and varied water conditions.”
A full-time Medical Science student, McMillan will stay at nearby Terrigal for the duration of the Championships.
She is practising tirelessly, skiing for about an hour several times a week in numerous bodies of water including Brooklyn, Sydney Harbour and Botany Bay as well as on her home turf on the Hawkesbury.
McMillan will be typical of the many competitors and their families helping to boost the region’s economy.
“One of my favourite things to do on the Central Coast is to shop,” she said.
“On the days when we’re not competing I’m really looking forward to sightseeing around the Central Coast checking out all the excellent cafes and restaurants.”
Skiers will start at the Gosford end of Brisbane Water next to the wharf area and proceed 2.5km down towards the Noonan Point and Point Frederick area, where they will turn and come back with another turn outside Drifters and the Gosford wharf.
The course is a 5km lap in total and competitors will do consecutive laps for the duration of their timed event.
These are: Men’s Open (60 minutes); Women’s Open (45 minutes); and Juniors (30 minutes).
There will also be two 20-minute International Challenge Display Races featuring Under 14s Junior and Over 40, 50 and 60 age classes.