Zeerust youngster Kelsie Dempster is an Australian boating champion, recently taking out the J3 division of the Australian Junior Futures powerboat championships.
Piloting her 15-horsepower boat, which hits speeds of 70km, Dempster, 15, took on the Manning River and won.
After winning through a series of five heats, Dempster, in just her second year of racing, blitzed the field in the finals, taking top spot in her boat Monopoly.
Dempster’s mother Rhonda said the remarkable achievement capped a rollercoaster ride from novice to champion.
‘‘In November 2016, we saw someone advertising the chance to try boats. Kelsie had a go and got her boat licence soon after that,’’ she said.
After gaining valuable racing experience, Dempster bought her own boat, continuing to compile strong results through her first full season of racing.
But the idea of racing at the national titles, let alone winning it, was barely on her radar.
‘‘We ran two rounds of the AFBGP (Australian Formula Powerboat Grand Prix) series, in Griffith and Mulwala, but then we were going to pack the boat up for the year,’’ Rhonda said.
‘‘But we had a call from a family in Sydney who sponsor her, wanting her to go up to the Australian titles. After 18 months on the road we weren’t sure, but we ended up going.’’
It paid off for Dempster.
It was a family affair at the finish with cousin Tate Williamson, 12, snaring second.
‘‘We really only went up there to have a bit of fun and catch up with all the kids from different states,’’ Rhonda said.
‘‘We just wanted to have a go at it and see how it all worked, because there’s been a few Victorians over the years that have gone up there trying to bring the trophy back, and just haven’t been able to get it.
‘‘It was a pretty amazing effort that they both made the finals, because NSW pretty well owns everything in the sport.
‘‘It’s the first Victorian name to go on the trophy.’’