Future of major waterski event called into question after death of competitor

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The biggest waterski racing event in the Southern Hemisphere is having its future questioned after the tragic death of competitor Luke Wentworth.

Wentworth was competing at Victoria's annual Southern 80 race yesterday when he crashed into a tree about an hour into the race.

He is the seventh person to die in the race since 1987.

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Just days before the water skier was killed on the Murray River, his mother posted a chilling message on Facebook.

"Just please get to the finish line in one piece," she said.

In a statement, his family said they were devastated and "trying to come to terms with the sudden and tragic loss".

Commentator Dave Bishop said the accident had rocked the Southern 80 community.

"We call it the ski racing family and it is a big family and everyone is feeling the pain," Bishop said.

"He was a competitor, he went hard at it and he would have known the risks as well.

"Everyone is shattered."

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The competition has boats skimming the water at 100 kilometres an hour around dozens of bends.

Steve Shipp, president of the Moama Water Sports Club, said organisers worked hard to keep competitors safe.

"All our precautions are in place," Shipp said.

"We don't think there is anything we could have done better, but we will review it."

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Murray River Council mayor Frank Crawley said one death was too many.

"Given the history of it, it does raise concerns and we need to be satisfied as a council that it's being well managed and mitigated," Crawley said.

Police have opened a coronial investigation into the incident, which will ultimately provide recommendations into further safety protocols.

They are asking witnesses who may have seen the incident or have filmed it to come forward.