Photos by Brett Hemmings
Following a weekend of speed, spills and high-octane thrills along Australia’s most famous river; locals, Matt Thur and Shane Palat, sped their way to victory in the 2017 Red Bull Dinghy Derby for their second year running after also winning the event in 2016.
Now in its 37th year, the ironically Australian event is a not-to-miss feature of the Australian Red Bull event calendar.
This year, the 90km+ main event saw over 80 souped-up dinghies across four classes race through the spectacular Murray River and surrounding creeks of Renmark.
Reaching incredible speeds while dodging logs, tree stumps and all of nature’s obstacles, Matt Thur and Shane Palat claimed the top spot after carving through the challenging course in an impressive time of 1 hour and 14 minutes, followed closely by Adam Price and Trevor Telling in second place (1:16:22) and Cliff and Jayd Glover in third place (1:17:34).
Of his win, Matt Thur said, “It took me 10 years but we’ve won two in a row now so I’m really ecstatic.”
When asked why he races, he said, “If you’ve never seen Red Bull Dinghy Derby before, it’s almost like motor cross on water. Dinghy racing is a very unique sport, it’s a lot of fun, a relatively cheap motorsport and you get to race against an awesome bunch of people in our hometown, Renmark.”
An action-packed day for all, the event drew close to 500 spectators who lined the river front and key vantage points, including ‘Carnage Corner’, to grab a glimpse of the madness.
Founded in 1981 over a bet between mates to see who was the fastest, the Red Bull Dinghy Derby is also one of the largest events in the South Australian Riverland region.
Based on the humble Aussie dinghy or tinny, the dinghies are heavily modified in terms of structure and engine.
Across seven different classes, the dinghies race along the Murray River and the narrow creek networks in the surrounding area of the township of Renmark.
The race is organised by the Riverland Dinghy Club, a group of locals who volunteer their time to bring the event together every year.