Australia's hottest water ski racer, Peter Proctor, went wire to wire this morning to earn his second career overall victory at the 64th Annual Catalina Water Ski Race in Long Beach, Calif. The 24-year-old bested a strong field of Men's Open competitors including ten-time Catalina champ, Todd Haig, 33, from the United States.
The 62-mile round trip race from the stern of the Queen Mary to Avalon Harbor on Catalina Island and return was done at a near record-setting pace of just under 51 minutes for the winner who was towed by Mike Avila's 47-foot Fountain offshore power boat powered by triple 1,000-hp engines from Boostpower Marine in Newbury Park, Calif.
Pulled by Randy Davis in a 47-foot Nordic V-bottom with twin 1,200-hp engines from Mercury Racing, Haig finished less than 15 seconds behind the Proctor/Avila team. The second place finish for Haig and Davis was bitter sweet as Haig was shooting for his 11th overall Catalina win, which would have tied him with legendary Chuck Stearns for the most individual championships. Proctor's first Catalina victory came during the 2010 event, also skiing behind Avila with a 42-foot Fountain.
According to post-race reports, the unpredictable Catalina Channel was just that, smooth in the early going and then rough in mid-channel, which added to the difficulty for the participants. Approximately 70 teams started in two waves. Boats 21-foot and under started first followed about 15 minutes later by the larger boat fleet.
Americans did have something to celebrate, however, as local favorite Erin Saunders won her second straight Catalina Women's Open title skiing behind a 42-foot Nordic Inferno V-bottom Saunders has gained considerable international acclaim of late as she has successfully won major races on the European ski race.