Decision by speed at Albany
Albanyís "River Gone Wild" event is where the US Champions in three classes will be decided and after 400+ miles of racing on four of the wildest whitewater rivers the West has to offer, it all comes down to pure speed. Albany is 6 legs of 16 miles on Saturday followed by 2 legs of 43 miles on Sunday and every single one of the 182 miles are run at wide open throttle. Unlike the other four races that make up the US Championship quest, Albany is all about absolute speed.
A-Class. After Hoopa, Dave and Darren Provost #182 "Risky Business II" leads Paul Bagshaw and Rob Soule #277 "Unpredictable" by 571 points for the US Championship in A class. Since there are 800 points up for grab this weekend, it is more than possible for Paul to take the lead and the US Championship away from Dave. To keep him from doing that, Dave has to accumulate 230 points over the weekend. Simply finishing every leg, both days, dead last would do it in this field of three boats. That scenario would put Dave ahead by 221 points if Paul took first every leg. He could also finish no worse than second for 5 of 6 legs Saturday. Any of those scenarios locks Dave in as US Champion in A-class for 2006 but the play is totally in his court. Itís either drive hard and put away the win early, betting that the motor lasts, or make conservative runs, taking it easy on the little Ford. Because Dave didnít build Risky Business for pleasure cruises, my bet is it will be "take no prisoners, all hands to the guns". Paulís ONLY choice is to run just as hard as he can to stay within shooting distance in case Dave stumbles, but that is ALL that he can do. The wild card in the deck is that this is a singularly tough race on motors and everybody is running with the same motor they started with, 427 miles ago. Filling out the A class in their first ever race are rookie racers Terry OíKeefe and Russ Hoisington in the 211 boat "Riptear". This boat used to be Chandlerís "Danger Zone" Salmon River slayer boat and was always a formidable competitor.
B-Class is closer yet with the Labrum brothers, Duane and Gary #163 "Tuff-N-Nuff" leading Steve Hanlin and Steve Jensen #188 "White Lightning" by a mere 86 points. This after Duane Labrums skillful driving at Idaho, Roseburg and Grants Pass followed by a wild but awesome set of runs at Hoopa by Gary Labrum who was the designated driver there. At Albany, Gary is driving again and the Labrumís have drafted Garyís daughter, Sheena, as navigator. She canít possibly weigh more than about 90 pounds. The nod for fastest boat of the two has to go to Steve Hanlinís superbly prepared "White Lightning" at 105+, and Albany is all about speed, this becomes a match made in heaven. However, the Labrumís are just not the types to let it go down without giving it both barrels, thus Gary, who is lighter than Duane, is driving while Sheena, who is lighter than Gary, is navigating. I have no doubt they will be running "just enough fuel, plus a tiny margin". About the only other thing they could do to lighten the boat more is to get it running then throw the battery out on the beach! The Brody Miller/ Dwain Longfellow #169 "Liquifire" team is far behind in points due to a buggy season but are here to race for the Albany win. Scott Adams #155 "Sideways" has also had a tough year, starting the year in BBFX but jumping back up to B class when their ZZ502 failed catastrophically at Roseburg. They are also here to contend for the win at Albany. Both teams are out of the running for the US title, but that notwithstanding, either of these teams are potential race winners at any time, and could prove to be spoilers in B-class.
BBFX veteran racers Dean Saxon and John Nicklason #70 "Adrenaline Rush" are the only big block boat here. I know Dean and John will be working hard to put on a good show and beat any A or B-boats he can, simply because thatís the way they race.
SBFX Class has been a dogfight all year between Greg Boice #07 "Hasta La Vista Baby" and Merv George #13 "Yellowhammer". There was only a handful of legs this year that they didnít run within seconds of each other and usually less than ten seconds at that. They both run very similar boats, both are 19 foot Eagle step-techs, both are powered by aluminum head ZZ4s and both are fast as stink. The similarity ends there though, as they have radically divergent driving styles. Even so, by the time Albany has come around, there is no clear-cut advantage for one or the other and they are within 149 points of each other with Merv in the lead. For Albany, the other half of the George race team, Poppy George, is in Yellowhammers driversí seat. Not only does Poppy weigh less than half of Mervís redoubtable self, she is a highly competitive driver, possibly more so than Merv. Zeke Lininger will navigate for Poppy on Saturday, but Merv will navigate on Sunday for the 43-mile legs. Greg Boice, who likely is a match for Merv in absolute weight, answered the challenge. He went on a shopping trip for light navigators. As of Thursday evening, local Albany fishing guide Paul Luhrs was going to navigate, but then Greg met Canadian jetboat racer Jesse Foster who came down to watch the race. Jesse Foster, besides being a very capable racer also happens to weigh less than Paul, so Paulís out! Sorry Paul. Jesse LaForest and Lynn Mouser (thatís us) and #16 "Wocket", are also here to compete for the Albany win. We are not in contention for the US title due to mishaps at previous races, but the 19 1/2 foot Provost Cobra wing boat is definitely fast enough to be a spoiler in this race. Don Ruddick and Pete Nesbitt #09 "Mountain Honey" a 20 foot Kwik Kraft are also here to fight for the Albany win, but are also not in contention for the US title.
SJ Class at Albany consists of Gary Weaver #08 "Baby Bud", George Edwards #05 "Totally Wicked" and Mark Dorner #22 "No Deposit No Return" who traveled 2400 miles to race. SJ is still an exhibition class this year, so no points were accumulated towards a US title, however I have no doubt they have an accounting going between themselves. I would read it as #08, #05 followed by #22. Also, this is Gary Weaverís home river and besides, heís been doing some secret stuff to his boat.
Thatís 15 boats, the lowest turn out all year, motor failures and racing stress having taken their toll over the previous four races.
Friday, the scout trip.
Not a lot to say about the scout trip except that there are several deceptive channels past Corvallis, it would be easy to take a long one or a wrong one, the long one is just time, the wrong one being a turn around and go back out if you donít beach it. It is a long, long way to Harrisburg at scout boat speeds, longer yet coming back when your scout boats motor barfs its innards into the bilge.
The first leg is out at 9:00 am. The driversí meeting was held at 7:45 am. What was nice about that is that it was cool out. An easy prediction is that it was going to get very hot later, even this early in the day it just looked like it was going to be a scorcher.
Today we race to Corvallis and back three times for a total of six legs that add up to 96 miles. There will be a good break between the fourth leg and the fifth leg. The Hydros will run during the break, and we can refuel out of the water.
Leg one up: Everyone seemed to make it fine, we (#16 Wocket) bounced all the way up. The boat was porpoising, but only on Lynnís side. Cranking the nozzle all the way up just made it worse and even with it all the way down it still hopped, but then it was slow, so we ran the nozzle all the way up and endured the bumpy ride. Dwain Longfellow and Dennis Miller #169 "Liquifire" were experiencing an ignition or carb problem, they were only going about 65 mph. We passed them, as did the rest of SBFX. Scott Adams #155 "Sideways" had the alternator pulley fly off and did not make this or the next leg. They had put it away Friday night after testing and it was fine then, but the pulley decided to fly off first thing this morning.
Leg two down: Everyone ran the same, Liquifire still only running about 65 mph. We are still bouncing but on the downriver leg we are going a bit faster and it makes it so I had to lift for right hand turns. When we caught Liquifire at the end of a left-hand corner followed immediately by a right hander, I had a tough time going past, ran straight towards the far beach as fast and for as long as I could then slowed and cut right. This is getting irritating and it is hitting pretty hard when it comes down. Probably looks funny as hell too.
Leg three up: Same old story, hop, hop, hop but the boat is getting lighter as the fuel burns off and the hop is getting worse. Now itís hard to turn right going upriver. Waved at Dwain and Dennis as we bounced past. We are not fast, poor old Wocket is just barely getting to 80 mph in the straights, much slower than that on right handers and it is getting the hell pounded out of it.
Leg four down: Had a hard time getting on top, set it down and shut the motor off twice thinking it was weeds or rocks and they would wash out, but that didnít help. At the start I just cobbed the hell out of it and it stayed on the rev limiter for about 10 seconds but finally tipped over and we were off. We can get to about 85 mph before it starts hopping so high it began unhooking. Right turns, forget it, back off and keep stabbing to get the nose around. Only good for about 65 mph and thatís it for turning right. Caught and passed Dwain and Dennis again, at least they are consistent! Terry OíKeefe #211 "Riptear" missed this start. Found out later that it was a battery problem, as in the battery went dead. Not enough time to install an alternator when they were thrashing the boat together to make this race and the battery ran out of electrons.
At the break between the fourth and fifth legs we pulled the boat out on the trailer. Jason Mouser and I pulled the nozzle knuckle off and went to a straight 4 degree up wedge. I also hammered a couple of 1/16th washers in behind the trailing edge of the ride plate to try to control the hopping. When you donít know what else to do, just try random stuff! Discovered that the reason I couldnít get on top on the last leg was because the hammering caused by the porpoising had knocked the o-ring out of the hand hole cover and it was sucking air on launch. Fixed that, topped off the oil and poured ten more gallons of gas in Wocket and we were ready to go at Ďer again.
Terry OíKeefe #211 "Riptear" both made it back late, but safe. I assume they got a jump from the flag boat. The last two legs start at 2 PM and so far everyone is ready or getting ready to go except the Miller Longfellow #169 "Liquifire" will miss the last two legs. The thing just wonít run right and they are trying to run down the problem. It acts like the timing is very retarded. So far, they have changed everything that can be unbolted from the ignition and fuel systems.
Leg five up: Way better! Still porpoising, yes, but not quite as bad and at also didnít begin until a higher speed. Best of all, the porpoise was symmetrical, not just on Lynnís side. Wocket got to 81 mph going up, best so far today. Itís still hopping pretty good, but I didnít lift, we just rode it out. On this leg we came across Dave and Darren Provost #182 "Risky Business II" at the top of about the third long right hander. They were on the gravel bar with their helmets off and Darren made the universal broken sign as we went by. I think we made a pretty good time this run, felt like it anyway.
Leg six down: The official timer clock at the top end also has a thermometer in it, it read 113 degrees in the sun! Our clock in the boat got so hot the whole display turned black and it started beeping. I stuck it in my shirt to cool it off; it began working again but had reset itself to 12:00:00. Oops! Rob Soule, navigator in #277 "Unpredictable", chucked his stopwatch/clock in the river. Donít know if this helped, but if it was waterproof it should have been ok. I am sure the real temperature was about 100 degrees. Dean Saxon and John Nicklason #70 "Adrenaline Rush" did not make their start, their battery had gone bad. Bad day for batteries and alternator drives. Our run down was good. No muss, no fuss just drive the bus. Itís flying out of the water and now starting to unhook at about 86 mph, but if I keep it at about 8/9ths throttle itís doesnít unhook. Dave and Darren are still sitting out on that hot, hot gravel bar when we go by.
So, by the end of racing Saturday Steve Hanlin #188 "White Lightning:" has nailed down B-class with a 2:25 time margin over Gary Labrum #163 "Tuff-N-Nuff" and have taken a first in every leg for 400 points for the day whereas Gary has taken 3 second place legs and 3 third place legs for a total of 275 points. At this point, Steve Hanlin is now in the lead for the US Championship for B-class by 39 points. Tomorrow will tell all in B-class. Scott Adams #155 "Sideways", after he got running again, ran 3 second places and 1 third place leg, added to his 2 DNS legs. Duane Longfellow and Dennis Miller got 2 third place legs but then 4 fourth place legs and ended Saturday in third place in B Class.
Poppy George #13 "Yellowhammer", dominated SBFX class Saturday and ran all first place legs all day. She also cinched the SBFX US Championship today for George Racing. Gary Weaver #08 "Baby Bud" also ran all first place legs all day in SJ class.
Today in A-class, Dave Provost #182 "Risky Business" cinched his win for the US Championship in the first four legs, which was perfect, because his 434 CI small block Ford completely gutted itself on leg five and that was the end of the weekend for them. Paul Bagshaw #277 "Unpredictable" ran hard up until then and continued to run hard afterwards, but it just wasn't enough in the face of Dave's unrelenting charge this year. Paul, a three time US A-class champion, did come awful close though! Here is how close it came: After 430 miles of racing through the best whitewater the west has to offer in the previous four races, and the accumulation of 3846 between them, Dave was ahead of Paul by 571 points coming to Albany. At the end of leg four, Dave and Paul had each gotten two first place legs and two second place legs. This left them exactly the same place points-wise as when they started the weekend, with Dave 571 points ahead of Paul. Dave is out, done for the weekend, but there are only 533 more points to be had in the remaining two legs Saturday and the two legs on Sunday, therefore Paul, even if he takes first in all the remaining legs, will trail behind Dave by 38 points. Dave wins the US Championship through shear grit and determination.
As for our own race effort, we cut the end of our nozzle and bent it up to about 18 degrees, the theory being that we didnít have enough up thrust available to carry the nose. This was accomplished in the pits with a Sawzall and a stick welder that was mounted on Scott Turleyís shop truck. Scott is one of those guys who can fix damn near anything with whatever he has to hand. He was there all weekend and helped out a bunch of folks with broken headers and various hosed up items; we all really appreciated that. However, that much up was too much of a good thing. The boat was now carrying the nose just right, but just when it really got rolling it would make this bang-bang-bang noise, then fall over. We had run out of testing time so the plan was to take the wedge out, get the nozzle back to zero degrees to the bowl and test again in the morning and see how that would do. We also had discovered a crack developing between the handhole and the bowl flange, so the Sunday morning test would either work or we were going to have to bag it. Running 43 miles hammering the pump every 200 hundred feet is a good way to blow a chunk of the suction piece out, if you are lucky it would be outside the hull, if you werenít lucky youíd sink
Today, itís 86 miles of wide-open throttle, 43 miles to Harrisburg and 43 miles back. There are several sneaky channels, lots of great sharp corners and lots and lots of places to park your boat! If you make it to Harrisburg, you get to eat lunch. You can also refuel there, out of the river. The ramp at Harrisburg has filled in since last year with the high water this winter; the boat ramp has turned into a paved driveway that only leads to a 200-yard long gravel bar. Weíll be pulling the boats in and out Hoopa style, which is basically over the gravel bar at any spot you like.
We arenít going this morning. On testing, the boat holds the nose up perfect, but just as its picking up that last two miles per hour it takes one more little climb and uncovers the front of the intake. The motor then hits the rev limiter and the nose slams into the river. Dang. We load up and head for Harrisburg to watch everyone come in.
Along the way we tuned in to Bill Lundens coverage of the race on 1240 AM, KEJO. This really made our Sunday on the beach enjoyable. Truly great coverage and we enjoyed the heck out if it. Merv George, the usual driver of #13 "Yellowhammer" but sitting it out Saturday while his wife Poppy George drove and Zeke Leninger navigated, found Billís excellent coverage on Saturday crucial to maintaining his touch with what was going on, as well as his mental equilibrium.
A Class is settled as far as the US points are concerned, but Terry OíKeefe #211 "Riptear" keeps going faster and faster as he gets used to a 100 mph A boat. Paul Bagshaw #277 "Unpredictable" cannot let up, not that he would anyway. Paul is in first place for the Albany race, Terry is in second place, and Dave Provost is on the beach but in third.
In B class, Steve Hanlin #188 "White Lightning" has turned the corner on the Labrums #163 "Tuff-N-Nuff" and has not only taken back the 86 point deficit but has moved ahead of them by 39 points for the B class US championship. Steve is solidly in first place, Gary is in second and Scott Adams holds third place. The B class US championship will be determined today. The Miller/Longfellow team has found the problem! It was a set of plugs gapped for an MSD system and which were set to .050 or so but that were now trying to be fired by a magneto, which prefers something like an .030 gap. They have a 3 minute and 31 second gap to make up on Scott to get to third place. Thatís a long, long shot.
The first boat into Harrisburg was Steve Hanlin #188 "White Lightning", not Paul Bagshaw #277 "Unpredictable" who had started a minute in front of him! It was a long two minutes until we heard another boat coming, but it turned out that the next boat was actually three boats running in a high 90 mph formation. Paul Bagshaw #277 crossed the line, flanked by Scott Adams #155 "Sideways" 2 seconds behind then Gary Labrum #163 "Tuff-N-Nuff" 3 seconds behind Scott. Scott had started behind Gary Labrum by one minute but had gained one minute and three seconds on him on the run up, catching and passing them just below the finish line. Paul Bagshaw, besides running the last 38 miles of the race on seven cylinders (plug wire fell off), had taken a wrong turn into one of those sneaky channels, this one at Irish Bend, and he had to land it and get turned around. This took a while. Steve Hanlin had started to follow Paul in, but turned off at the last minute. This all happened out in front of Scott Adams and Gary Labrum a ways, and Gary told me later that by the time they got there, the river patrol guys were frantically pointing out the correct channel after Steve Hanlin did a ripper turn right off of their noses!
Paul made it back out to the main river just in front of the two B-boats of Scott Adams and Gary Labrum and thatís the way they crossed the finish line. If it isnít obvious, which it likely isnít, Scott made the fastest run up of all the boats on this leg with a scorching 28:03 time.
Poppy George #13 "Yellowhammer" ran another fast leg, beating Greg Boice #07 "Hasta La Vista Baby" upriver by six seconds. That really isnít much, some of it because Greg was coming on but it is also likely due to Merv riding with Poppy in navigator Zeke Leningerís seat for these runs. And you know Merv weighs more than Zeke. In fact, Merv weighs as much as Poppy and Zekeís weight combined. There must be a parable in there somewhere, but I canít figure it out. I do know Poppy was talking about how the boat cornered fine going to the right but just hopped all over the place going to the left!
Dean Saxon and John Nicklason in BBFX ran up to Harrisburg in 31 minutes, 47 seconds which is an amazing run for a boat powered by what is basically a tow truck motor. These guys run hard even when they have nothing chasing them but river. Real showmen, we all see what you guys are doing and all appreciate it.
In SJ Gary Weaver #08 took 43 minutes and 35 seconds to get there, George Edwards #05 took 45 minutes 34 seconds to get there and Mark Dorner #22, and Scott Turley (our most handy shop truck guy), never made it. Their jet pump attempted to unbolt itself from the hull on the way up. Lots of water was pouring in, about ankle deep on Scott when they beached it. The poor guys, the only place they could find to park was at a spectatorís campsite where they were plied with cold beverages and BBQed bratwurst while being required to sit in comfy chairs in the shade by the river to recover from their "ordeal". I do hope that this stressful incident does not mar Mark or Scott for life or sour them on jetboat racing. Mark showed me a picture of their host, boy, was she a cutie! Scott wasnít Markís navigator on Saturday, he had jumped in to navigate for Mark when Markís local guest navigator begged off of being pummeled up and down the river for a second day. She said she was bruised and sore enough for one weekend. Mark does seem to have a way about him, doesnít he?
Everybody made the run back except Scott Adams who had a failure on this down run and came back to the pits on the trailer. Paul Bagshaw ran back fastest with a howling 26:28 for this 43 mile run. That's an average speed of over 97 mph through all the turns, snags and thin water. Steve Hanlin first in B Class with a 27:13 and Gary Labrum second with a 27:27. Close! That settled the B Class US championship with Steve Hanlin out in front by only 127 points after 609 miles of racing. It came right down to that last leg, if Steve had not finished Gary would have won. Steve got first in Albany and Gary got second with Dwain Longfellow and Dennis Miller taking third. Their long shot paid off.
Greg Boice nicked Poppy George with a 31:44 to the Georgeís 31:46. This still left Poppy as the Albany 2006 winner in SBFX as well as the US Champion. Greg was second and Don Ruddick and Pete Nesbitt got third, their first podium I think and a big congratulations to them! In SJ Gary Weaver made it back in 42:29 to George Edwards pull out all the stops run of 42:35. Gary Weaver won SJ class at Albany this year, George Edwards was second and Mark Dorner was third but still on the beach somewhere upriver enjoying the afternoon.
Albany 2006 was the deciding race in every class except BBFX this year. A Class and SBFX were decided the first day, A Class only after the fourth leg and SBFX not until the last leg of the first day. B Class came down to the very last leg on Sunday after a 182 mile weekend. The most amazing part of this is how close things were even after 609 miles of river racing on some of the wildest rivers the west has as well as some of the toughest endurance races you could do. Very close racing indeed.
It was truly a great year for jetboat racing, one of the best I have ever seen. Many new racers, full turnouts at every race except Albany, very close racing and really well put together races with excellent purses every where we went. It was a really great year.
|A Class||Boat||Leg 1||Leg 2||Leg 3||Leg 4||Leg 5||Leg 6||Day one Total||Leg 1||Leg 2||Day two