Gold Beach 1999
Gold Beach. When I think about racing there, I can see the beautiful bridge that crosses the Rogue to Wedderburn. In my minds eye I can see the spectators that camp out on the sandbars, party down and really get into jetboat racing. Kids asking for your autograph- (who me? why on earth do you want MY autograph?) The whole town is abuzz with boat racing at the finals in Gold Beach. One great stretch of the river, fast and challenging. Where else would you finish the season but in the town that is practically famous FOR jetboats? There are more licensed jetboat operators in Gold Beach than anywhere else that I know of. Even the operator of the show-me boat was a notorious ex-racer (Hugh McGinnis). Gold Beach likes jetboats!
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Boat Show
The turn out was pretty good. Notable show ups were Robbie Pierce and racing Val and Del's 111 Val-osity. Chuck Laird was there #101, a new/old boat (Wayne Adams old boat with extensive deck modifications a new motor) and a new navigator. The last time I saw Chuck, the team was pretty dejected and heading back to Coos Bay towing there once very clean but now very smashed boat. That was in 1996. I have often wondered since if they would be back racing and I was real happy to see them this year.
Another cool thing to see was Steve Zimmerman's old 232 back at it! The Bagshaw Racing team has put an absolutely awesome paint job on it, new motor, pump, etc. and jumped into racing. Yeah, they were having their share of the new equipment, things ain't going quite right bugs, but they kept on runnin ! I like the fact that they kept the same boat number.
Jim and Mrs. Ely had #11 looking good- got a roll cage, belts and a great paint job. Runs pretty darn good, too! No more broken fingernails in that boat. The Jokers made it over the hill, Joel Sheppard and the VIP Marine flyer #114 was there, Bruce Mills banged up ribs and all was there and running #222, Dwayne and and crew had somehow gotten #244 in shape again and #199 Glory with the Galvins a tweaking and a tuning made it. Glory keeps getting a little faster and a little faster each time I see her. It might be that the Galvins are building up a new hull next year.
Ernie and Brandi Fields were there with #115 Hot Pursuit, looking good as always and the Pelkey clan with #216 Bad Habit were there also. Anybody think we'll see Ernie move up to A-class? Charlie Pelkey maintains/builds both the motors in these two boats as well as navigates in Bad Habit with his son Barry. I suspect it's also a sly trick to make sure their tuner is at the top end were the two motors are!
Mike Zoller and Tim Whitebread, #300, had the much too nice to race American Thunder running good again. Hey Mike, more power to you. Between your very nice boat and the Bagshaws, and a few others, maybe you'll raise the bar a bit as far as looking good as well as going fast. 
C-class showed up in force, I've been seeing these guys everywhere I go! Sam Waller #69 Miss Sheryl, Terry Pottratz #77 Rogue Runner, Mike Messick #34 River Raider, Joe Ross #07 Ms. Gold Beach, the Ely's #11, John and Debbie Thompson #14 We Be Jammin and me and Lynn #16 Cavefish. They never quit! Sam had that look in his eye, I know it pretty well, it's that look of "gotta hang on, don't make no mistakes, finish finish finish." Sam ran hard all year, only made one little bobble, and turned in a more than respectable season. The computer gremlins were hard on his trail there towards the end, I'm sure glad they finally left me alone!
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Let's Race!
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Tim Harding and Mike Phillips #333 Burning Desire were ready to run, but unfortunately the computer (or something) wasn't. They limped upriver on day one, but didn't make it to the top end. Day one also saw both the Provosts in #182 and Phil Taylor #211 crash. Straight Shot, #182 ate it pretty bad, ran up on some big immovable rocks, broke the bowl and shaft off and totally crushed the navigator side of the boat. Darren Provost took a ride to the hospital, but mostly just sore and bruised up. Straight Shot is totaled I am afraid. I just heard they are already starting another hull, just a bit longer than the 18 1/2 foot Straight Shot. Maybe this boat will be named Gimme Another Straight Shot?
Phil Taylor assembled 211 from a bare hull, with much help I might add, in 28 hours right before the Klamath race. The Chandlers son (the Chandlers own the boat/team) is the navigator. The rocks were not kind to the boat or crew. More dented and bent aluminum on day one. The new 211 was wrecked and the navigator's heel was caught in the crushed tunnel on his side. He broke his heel pulling it out. (the boat was sliding back into the water so he was understandably in a hurry)
Ben and Steve in #109 French Frying Legion whacked the spoon so hard it broke loose and was dragging so they were out for day two.
I smacked a rock pretty good on the way down, it was a thud instead of a ting. The swells were so bad coming back into the bay at Gold Beach that I couldn't get my eyes to focus. The bank and the bridge were just a blur, but big enough blurs that I missed both of them as well as the dock the flag crew was standing on. My boat was damaged, but I didn't know it until the next day. They were trying to organize a buoy race in the bay in front of the start line, but it was just too damn rough to pound the boat anymore.
Sunday
Still pretty bumpy- We got a good start, still pretty bumpy in the bay, hooked the buoy and we were gone! We ran through the channel just above elephant rock. The tide was out so it got real shallow before we got to the other side, but made it ok. The Cavefish was really moving, it was running so good, better than it had all year since I ditched the TBI and it's associated multiple problems. (Damn Computers, anyway!) Just at the top end of the Ferry Hole Lynn hit me in the shoulder and pointed at the oil pressure gauge. ZERO. The oil pressure lights on too! I'm so jazzed, I start trying to talk myself into it being just a sensor, had problems all year with those. Wait, each unit, the light and the gauge, have a separate sensor. Damn. Pulled over. Motor sounds ok at idle, no thuds or clunks, but still no pressure. Shut it off, turned the ignition back on, hopped in the back and short the pressure sensor to ground. Gauge pegs high. Arrrgh!, I Don't Have Any oil pressure!
Well anyway, to make a short story long, Lynn hitches a ride back to the ramp to get the Jeep and trailer, I watch everybody in our class go by, (only one who saw me was Joe) and then the sweep boat.  I start the Cavefish up and idle out into the current then shut it off and drift down to the next ramp, about a half a mile. Lynn picks me and the boat up and we are done racing. We stopped by the deli next to the bridge and bought some sandwiches, met Terry and Barbara ( who are also out, hors de combat) and head up to Lobster Creek to WATCH THE RACES. A first for us, we've never gotten to see a race yet! That's the way it goes sometimes. I do feel bad that the guy who bought us didn't even get a finish out of the deal. Post mortem reveals that the oil pump had broken in half and fallen in the pan. No metal in the pump, it was the shock of the first day coming back through all those swells(or something else??), the backup evidence of that is the four broken main caps, including the big one that the pump seats on. (I only have a 320 horsepower, so I know it's not that.)