Greg’s final year at the wheel

Born to race: On board their grandfather’s ShowBiz race boat are Max, Zoe and Elli McCallum. The 2022 event looks like being the Moama Water Sports Club committee member’s last Southern 80. Photo by Steve Huntley
Final run: Greg Plummer will drive the Southern 80 course for the final time with his granddaughter Elli McCallum in tow during the weekend. Photo by Cath Grey

Greg Plummer will put his foot to the floor for one last time in this year’s Southern 80, fittingly, with the youngest of his grandchildren holding on tight a dozen or so metres behind his Showbiz boat early on Saturday morning.

Greg’s granddaughter Elli McCallum will suit up for the Under-10 event with her grandfather’s hands firmly in position on the steering wheel of the powerful speed boat.

Elli is the youngest child of Greg’s daughter Renee, who herself was taught how to ski by Greg in her youth.

Both of Renee’s other children were scheduled to be involved in this weekend’s Southern 80 action, but it will only be 14-year-old Zoe who tackles the postponed 2022 event after her younger brother was concussed playing football.

“All three of them would have been skiing this weekend, but my grandson Max was badly concussed playing with Moama Under-14 on the weekend,” Greg said.

“If it was up to him he would have the skis on in a flash, but we have to look after him.”

Greg has spent half his adult life, more than 30 years, involved in the sport and continues his passionate involvement through his children and their children.

He competed with Elli at Robinvale and Mildura this year, in 15km events.

And the pair didn’t walk away empty handed, Elli winning the Robinvale event before having a couple of hiccups at Mildura.

The Echuca-Moama event is five kilometres longer, at about 20km, but Elli and her grandfather are ready for the twisting course.

“She has been skiing for the last two or three years, but only started racing this year. If the Southern 80 had of been in February it would have been her first event,” Greg said.

The 45-mile-an-hour speed that the Under-10 skiers compete at pales against the ability of the Showbiz team to crank it up to 85mph.

Zoe McCallum will compete in the Under-16 boys social event, due to her skiing with Jordan Court.

Brad Witherton will be driving the boat for the other event.

“I am only towing Ellie, this is probably my last year,” Greg said.

“A friend of our tows the other two kids.”

Renee will be watching from the sidelines, having not competed for 10 years. Her brother, Blair, who lives in Melbourne only finished racing three years ago.

His teenage children, 13-year-old Tia and 10-year-old Cohen, have pursued other sports.

Renee and Blair skied behind Slice of Heaven, among other boats, during their careers.

“I’ve had five or six boats over the years,” Greg said.

The owner of Echuca Windscreens, has had long-time support from wife of 44 years Annette, throughout his involvement in the sport.

Greg said he would remain involved in the Moama Water Sports Club committee and would keep running the boat, with someone else at the wheel.

He has a long history on which to reflect, several wins in the six-litre race events with long-time friend and another ski racing legend, Noel Cartledge.

The pair raced together with Solid Gold, and later Pure Gold.

Greg’s consussed grandson was supposed to being skiing with Kohdi Cartledge, Noel’s grandson, at this year’s event — but his football injury has ruled him out.