Gearing up for Kununurra Dam to Dam Dinghy Dash

36 years ago enthusiastic Kununurra ski club members kick started the Dam to Dam Dinghy Dash and put their tinny’s to the test against other adventurous locals on a 55km stretch of the Ord River. It was an exhilarating way to appreciate the scenic Ord River during the wet season as well as create a competition that was both fun and daring. In recent years it has grown in popularity with interstate rivalry coming from dinghy clubs across Western Australia, Northern Territory and South Australia. A fast and furious race testing the skills of the locals and visiting clubs on Australia’s most scenic river systems, from the historic Lake Argyle Dam to the Diversion Dam.  Watch this 3 minute video to get a birds eye view of the Dam to Dam Dinghy Race.

Picturesque Ord RIver near Lake Argyle -start of Dam to Dam Dinghy Dash

Dinghy racing is one of the most unique motorsports in the world and the event is now featured during the award winning Ord Valley Muster, a festival that kick starts the tourist season in Kununurra, awarded the Best Regional Event at the 2015 Australian Tourism Awards.

The Kununurra Water Ski club are inviting a large range of boats to enter from across Australia. Ski Club Committee Member Mark Coventry has seen the event grow in the last few years due to aligning the rules with other dingy racing clubs around Australia. The standard hp classes enable anyone with a dinghy to join in regardless of their race experience. Standard categories are 15hp, up to 25hp, and 30hp, while the modified categories are 300cc, 30hp, or 300cc super modified. Competitors can also either race 55kms, from the Lake Argyle Dam Wall to Kununurra Ski Beach, or take on the 110kms enduro race from Kununurra Ski Beach to the Lake Argyle Dam Wall and back.  So get your dinghy into gear and grease up your outboard and join in.  With a handicap system in place anyone has the chance to win.

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The Dam to Dam Dinghy Dash has captured the imagination of the fearless Renmark Riverland Dinghy Club. The club started as a social event in 1981 and the competition has now transformed into a global sporting spectacle backed by Redbull. In the last few years club members have travelled over 3000kms from Renmark in South Australia to Kununurra in the Kimberley region of WA to take on the locals and appreciate the scenic race and hospitality offered by the Kununurra Water Ski Club. This  year they are travelling by truck, a semi trailer packed with racing dinghies ready to test the nerves and skills of local competitors.

Ray Newman, former President of the Renmark Riverland Dinghy Club fell in love with the area when he brought his family up to race 2 years ago.

We thought, hey it’s something different, we will give it a go. It’s just beautiful on the Ord river, the scenery is the best I’ve ever seen in my life. It’s a relaxed atmosphere and the race is a lot of fun.

Ray and Jay Newman competing in the 2016 Dam to Dam Dinghy Race

Ray and Jay Newman competing in the 2016 Dam to Dam Dinghy Race

Mechanic, Alex Haller, a self confessed rev head, arrived a couple of years ago to Kununurra from Germany and has learnt some handy dinghy racing tricks like getting weed out of the prop whilst the engine is running and going flat out.

I love the build up to the dinghy race as much as the race itself. 2 weeks before the race I’m excited. The most interesting part is the setting up and fine tuning and trying to get the last bit out of the Tinny, playing around with the prop and the pitch on the prop and trying to get the perfect set up of the engine, I push myself and then on race day I hope I have just got it right.

Alex Haller and Siim Pae competing in the 2016 Dam to Dam Dinghy Race

Alex Haller and Siim Pae competing in the 2016 Dam to Dam Dinghy Race

His navigator Siim Pae, a local Chef, arrived to Kununurra from Astonia several years ago.

This is a new sport for me, I hadn’t done boat racing until last year. The only reason I am in the boat with Alex is because I trust him, you really need to trust your driver when you are going that fast.

Camera Operator Rocky Sutherland for several years has had the best view in the house filming the race from the chopper.

My favourite thing is the exhilaration of filming the boats down low in a chopper roaring along at high speed. It’s great to be involved and make a contribution to such an amazing community event.

ALex and Siim competing in the 2016 Dam to Dam with Rocky filming and James flying the chopper.

Alex and Siim competing in the 2016 Dam to Dam with Rocky filming and James flying the chopper.

 Since the 80’s Darwin local Andrew Veal has religiously travelled to Kununurra for the Dam to Dam Dinghy Dash.

The most outstanding part of the Dam to Dam is the tireless efforts that are put in by the committee and volunteers. Every year the event is made totally enjoyable by all whom attend and enter. This year I have encouraged more entry’s from Darwin than ever before and my son, Robert, who has recently raced the Redbull in Renmark with Rob Stuetzel will also be back in his radical 8″ tinny trying to go upwards of 70kph with his 15hp. My personal pride and gratification was winning the fastest formula time and having my son win the 15hp class in the same race. 

Robert Veal and arrives at the finish line in the 2016 Dam to Dam Dinghy Race

Robert Veal and arrives at the finish line in the 2016 Dam to Dam Dinghy Race

Spectators can get close to the action by going on the breakfast Champagne Cruise, enjoying spectacular scenery with champagne and great food. Tickets are $100 and can be purchased by emailing the club at kununurrawaterskiclub@hotmail.com

There is also plenty of beachside action at the start/finish line at the Ski Beach. Tickets to the Ski Beach are $10 per car and can be bought at the gate on the day. The Dam to Dam is a family friendly event with something for everyone. Spectators can take in the thrills and spills of the day’s racing at the ski beach where the dinghies will touch down at the finish line around noon.

The Ski Beach has a beautiful lawn area where there is plenty of room to roll out a picnic rug or chairs and enjoy watching the action and events.

Spectators can expect to be entertained by dramatic dinghy landings on the beach with racers jumping out of their boats not so gracefully to reach the finish line. From 9.30am there will be plenty of activities for kids at the fun zone compromising of pony rides, a glitter fairy and water based jumping castles. In the afternoon there will be fun filled novelty dinghy races, tug a war competitions and adrenalin pumping short circuit racing. There’s food and drinks available for purchase throughout the day.

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For more information about this event or to participate in this years Dam to Dam Dinghy Race please contact the Kununurra Water Ski Club at kununurrawaterskiclub@hotmail.com 

Entry forms are also available at East Kimberley Marine and Coventry Machine Works. Race entry is $80 a boat, registrations will need to be in by the 14th of May to avoid late payment fees.

You can also visit www.ordvalleymuster.com.au to be informed about all the great events held in Kununurra between the 19th and 28th of May 2017

Rob Stuezel racing the enduro race in the 2016 Dam to Dam Dinghy Dash

Rob Stuezel racing the enduro race in the 2016 Dam to Dam Dinghy Dash

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Gearing up for the Dam to Dam in the 80's

Gearing up for the Dam to Dam in the 80’s




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