Dam good fun as boat race makes a colourful comeback after COVID

Amid the cheers and groans, the annual Kununurra Water Ski Club’s Dam to Dam boat race event has entertained the crowds along the banks of the Ord River in WA’s North.

The water race has been putting tinnies to the test since 1981 but it was cancelled last year due to COVID-19 fears.

This year, a record-breaking number of boats entered to race 55 kilometres of the Ord River head to head.

The club’s secretary, Katie-Mary Hunter, was one of the organisers who revelled in the buzzing atmosphere.

Maybe next year

John Haynes, 86, has been involved in the Dam to Dam three times, but he has never been able to finish a race.

Travelling more than three-and-a-half days to get to the race, the Albany man hopes to keep competing and he’s got a relaxing training regime to prepare for next year.

“I just take the boat out and mostly go fishing,” he said.

John Haynes watches from the banks, dressed in an army-khaki body suit.(

ABC Kimberley: Hinako Shiraishi 


Father and son duo

Trent Rykers and Kye Rykers were one of many father and son teams in the race, which is for vessels with up 30-horsepower.

Hoping to hit the 70-kilometre mark next year, they’re confident they know what to expect now.

Father and son infront of a boat
Trent Rykers and Kye Rykers are father and son duo and raced in the 30-standard.(

ABC Kimberley: Hinako Shiraishi 


“Now we’ve had a look at all the other boats, we know what to bring for next year,” Mr Rykers said.

Standing out from the singlets and shorts were Caz Simpson and her boyfriend Seaton Ridout.

“I’m dressed as an old man, and Sea’s dressed as an old woman, and our boat’s named the Pacemaker,” explained Ms Simpson.

A couple with talcum power in hair to look older
Caz Simpson and her boyfriend Seaton Ridout dressed as an old man and woman with their boat: the Pacemaker(

ABC Kimberley: Hinako Shiraishi 


With talculm powder slicked to their face with sweat, the young couple faced one hiccup on the way.

“When we came back in, I left the motor up and the boat’s nose went straight up in the air and we watched everyone race in front of us,” Mr Ridout said.

But overall, the couple were happy with their race.

The winners

The Booze Brothers won the Endurance race, and they say it wasn’t the outfits that helped them achieved their classy win.

Two men with white shirts and ties on
Winners are grinners, the Booze Brothers after their Endurance Race win (

ABC Kimberley: Hinako Shiraishi 


It’s their third time in the races and they’ve always been in the top three. They say their trick is to “stay away from everyone else and keep it clean”.

Competitors are told beforehand to come in at a slow pace, but one team will be getting a slap on the wrist for one of the most memorable landings this year.

man flipping in air after coming out of boat
James Woodland’s crash landing left him feeling a little sore afterwards. (

ABC Kimberley: Hinako Shiraishi 


James Woodland from the Dolly’s Dream team made a surprising entrance when he jumped off his boat as it crashed into shore, flipping in mid-air, rolling on the grass and continuing his sprint to slap his hands on the timing table.

For him, it’s his first race, and his last race.

With six different categories, including 15, 25 and 30-horsepower standard as well as 300cc modified, 30-horsepower super standards and 30-horsepower modifies, the race lasts from mid morning until the late-night celebrations wind down.

For risk-taking racers like Mr Woodland, the latter is essential.

“My leg is a bit bruised at the minute, I’ll keep icing it and get on the beers later,” he said.

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