THE Hawkesbury’s Rachael Stapleton was the fastest woman in the 2017 Catalina Ski Race, which took place on the weekend.
Stapleton was seventh-fastest overall in the prestigious ski race, and took out the open women’s title, just ahead of fellow Hawkesbury skier Ellen Jones.
The Hawkesbury’s Jack Harrison was third fastest overall, and finished second in the open men’s class with a time of 58:32.56.
In the under-19 class, it was Hawkesbury skier Cameron Osbourne taking out the win, while Luke Harrison finished third.
The Hawkesbury’s Brock McMillan won the F2 outboard class, while Michael Boylan ran third.
Ellen Jones’ sister Grace won the junior girls, while Brock’s sister Nellie finished second.
Stapleton said she elated after winning.
“I was stoked. After winning this race I felt so accomplished and the atmosphere of the Catalina race is insane,” she told The Gazette.
“American’s don’t do things small so the hype of winning was huge.
“Having the privilege to stand on the victory dock was such a cool feeling and being alongside the legend Todd Haig [men’s overall winner] on there was awesome too.”
The 20-year-old finished the race in a time of 01:04:03.43, which included a 30-second penalty. Jones’ time was 01:04:32.55.
Stapleton said she rated the victory on the weekend as the biggest of her career.
“The field this year was the biggest it has been in years,” she said.
“It was also a huge accomplishment to defend my title after winning Women’s Overall in last year’s Catalina race.”
The weekend before was the World Water Skiing Championships, where Stapleton said she did not go as well as hoped.
“Nearly all of the top women in the world were skiing in Catalina 2017 since the World Championships were held in Seattle only a week prior,” she said.
“I had a terrible run in the World Championships so Catalina was a huge deal to me to show everyone what ability I really have.”
Stapleton said she was convinced during the race that she had a skier on her tail and it turned out she was correct, as Jones gave it her best to edge ahead of her fellow Hawkesbury racer.
“Ellen Jones was on my tail the most of the way back and it wasn’t until I came around the turn at the Queen Mary that I knew I was safe to take the win,” she said.
Stapleton said after crossing the line she was fairly confident she had won the race, but still had to wait for the standings to be announced.
“In Catalina you’re never really sure if you’ve won,” she said.
“Being such a wide course in the ocean and everyone behind boats we hadn’t seen before, it’s tough to judge where everyone is and where you are sitting in the field.
“Since all the girls took off pretty close together this year my crew was onto it and knew where the competition was and where we were placing but you still have to wait for that finishing flag to be given to you.”
Stapleton said she could not wait for next year’s Catalina Ski Race, and thanked her crew of Jody Campbell, Jason Labahn and Rory Brown.