You could call Gold Beach the jetboating capitol of the USA and not be stretching the truth. You could also call it the friendliest little town along the Oregon coast and still not be wide of the mark. To us, each year, it's a breath of fresh air- the people are just about like the people in our hometown, Klamath, and of course the weather and climate are like our town. AND they are just nutty about jetboats! And besides all that, the Rogue river runs right through it.
Tough boats, tough teams
I was very impressed by how many teams had scratched and scraped their boats back together for one last run. Even teams that were so far out, six boats would have to expire to put them in the top three in their classes were still pulling out all the stops to get running again. THAT is one of the things it's all about, isn't it? They set out to go racing and they didn't quit until it was over or there was not enough parts left to continue. Everybody does what they have to, of course, to keep racing but here are some of the teams that put forth Herculean effort to continue racing:
The TMR Racing team,552, Robert Thompson/ Robert Cocklmin Kiwi team who had spun out and sank so spectacularly at Marysville. Lots of thrashing went on to get the boat ready to go again.
Darren Arave, 399 Turbinator, who had ripped a hole in it and sank at Ennis riffle at Grants Pass. He had to disassemble the boat and haul it out in pieces. Rebuilt it in time for Gold Beach. Spun out and sank at Gold Beach on saturday, tore the motor out and rebuilt it saturday night in Joe Ross's shop and started sunday. First year for Darren, I believe he has gotten all the bad stuff out of the way this year and will have nothing but smooth rides form here on out. Has never heard the word "quit". Doesn't know what it means.
Richard Boice, 14, went completely up on a rock bar at Marysville and ripped the intake to pieces. Fixed the boat and ready to go again, looked factory when Richard got done, an excellent job. Crashed and sank at two mile on saturday, a pretty good fender bender, fixed it AGAIN, raced on sunday! Another one who never heard of quit, can't spell it or say it.
And there were many others who fought long complicated battles with motors, injection systems and rocks who just kept showing up in the morning ready to go again. (Bob White changing motors in the foyer of the Fireside Inn, Dave Provost sleeving, reboring, re-everythinging the little Ford in the parking lot, Sam Waller pulling the Miss Cheryl off the trailer and pounding it straight, midnite run back to Gold Beach to see Wayne about a new bottom then making the Grants Pass race.) You all get the "It ain't over till it's over." award as far as I am concerned. Good job, all of you.
Great weather for racing
You couldn't have found better weather, sunny and warm but not too warm. Lots, and I mean LOTS of spectators. All those channel 5 ads paid off. The most spectators I've ever seen at Gold Beach. Sunday looked like more than saturday, but who knows.
We got to Gold Beach friday morning and went straight to Mailboats and caught the show me boat. Hugh McGinnis and Ryan McGinnis were our guides. Seems odd, but when I thought about it I realized Hugh could show me the exact best way to go and STILL beat me, so what the hell! The river hadn't changed a whole lot, all though it was a bit lower than last year. Hugh showed us the table top sneakers, not too much aluminum on them yet. Three of the real bad ones were thoughtfully buoyed. It was a very nice ride on top of that, thank you Ed.
We fueled Cavefish at the 76 traveling gas station when we returned from the show me trip, then headed over to check into Jot's. Tonight was the Calcutta and boatshow so we cleaned up the boat. It was still covered with BOG (Bondo) dust from my bottom work and patch job I had done between Grants Pass and Gold Beach. Besides trying to straighten out the bottom on the after vee section, I had also tacked welded and glued a new flat piece to my less than flat delta pad. I got back my speed I had left on that rock bar in Grants Pass and I was going to need it to try and make up the DNF penalty. I used 3M 5200 instead of the urethane windshield goop recomended by the Provosts. They use the stuff for all kinds of things not the least of which is to put a spoon on their boat. They have also used it with much success to install bulkheads. I should have used it too.
The Calcutta was run out of the fairgrounds along with the boat show, just like always. Got to say hi to a lot of nice people we hadn't seen in awhile like Steve Zimmerman and family, Jon and Sara Zimmerman, Bob Williams and his friend with the goofy hat, Bruce Mills, Val Ramsdell, Joe Ross and many others. It was a pretty decent turnout this year.
Saturday - day one
Overcast and windy leaving the line. And a bit cold too, what happened to the nice weather??? A few hardy spectators below Ferry Hole, more the further we went. Lobster Creek was about covered with campers, tents and bare rock camps. People EVERYWHERE. (Hanging off the bridge, perched on every rock, standing IN the river) There were enough people that I actually saw faces instead of just blurs of bodies. Lynn waved and waved, her arm must have gotten tired.
I really like racing the lower Rouge, it has several neat corners, the ones in Copper Canyon are my favorite. One of them had a sneaky sandbar in it, but we missed it. I also like the corner at the Applegate, I can get way in close and burn right around it. There is stretch below Agness that I like a lot also, we run way on the right under the bushes unless there are people on the beach then I move out a ways in case something goes wrong. The curl at Agness is great fun to cut off close, run up inside it in the slack water then jump the curl. I guess I really like the whole run. I look forward to Two Mile and that next one, uh Old Diggins? Each year they are a tiny bit different, though the rocks are always in about the same places.
399, Turbinator's bad luck streak keeps on chuggin. Darren Arave's motor quit and he spun out about at the top of Ferry Hole, the boat took a bunch of water over the back and they sunk. Time to call it quits and go watch sundays races, eh Darren? I don't think so, he came to race and thats what he's gonna do.
Richard Boice and his new navigator Dean Saxon took a bad hop, drove the boat down ten feet and hit the bottom of the river at Two Mile, then they ran it out of the water onto some rocks so they wouldn't loose it. Unfortunately they were out in the middle and had to sit huddled on that same rock until a Sheriff boat rescued them and the boat. Someone said they they looked like two half drowned mice huddling there. Here's another guy who won't quit, they towed the boat to the top end at Foster Bar, pulled it out and headed back to Gold Beach to fix it!
On the down run there were lots of people at every place there was road access. The most I have ever seen on the lower Rogue. And it looked like they were partying. I even started waving.
From the Applegate on down the boat didn't feel quite right, kinda like it was tiptoeing or something. No, that's not quite it, more like it was balanced on a 2 x 4? I don't know, but it didn't feel right. It also seemed slower. Press on regardless, the closest repairs are in Gold Beach.
It was pretty windy and I could see clouds when we started getting near Gold Beach. The bay from Elephant rock on was bumpy , but not too bad actually, not as bad as last year. Thump- thump -thump across the line then head for the port.
We unlaunched and headed for Jot's. We heard a kind of clatter sound, but I assumed it was the tiedown chain rattling on the trailer. From Jot's, Terry Pottratz and I headed for mailboats to fuel the Cavefish back up. We were standing waiting for the tank to fill and Terry is looking at the axle on my trailer with a funny look on his face. He said "Did you know the bottom of your boat is falling off?" . I looked and the piece I had glued and spot welded on was hanging by the front weld down onto the axle of the trailer. The 3M 5200 had let go along with the spot welds down the side of the added piece. So THAT'S why it was handling funny! I don't think I would have noticed until I tried to back off the trailer in the morning and that piece jammed up in the back of the trailer and stopped me.
Joe Ross had offered to let me use his shop if I needed it and it seemed
like I needed it. When we got there, Darren Arave had just finished pulling
his water logged motor out of the boat and was tearing parts off of it.
He just refuses to quit! I borrowed some electrons from Joe and ground
the weld off, pulled the add on plate and bondoed (Boggified) the worst
ripples. It would have to do, I didn't have any other choice. Back to Jot's,
then out for pizza with John and Deb, Terry and Barbara and Chris and Sarah.
We ran into the Sundbergs at the pizza place and much table racing then
ensued. Good pizza too.
Dave told me that he had gotten launched by the strong winds on the way down saturday and he took off! Ten to fifteen feet in the air, he said it felt like it was going to do a blow over like the unlimited hydros. It landed though and nothing bad happened. I watched both of these boats as I am a nut for new technology. They seem very, very stable and appear to be right there speedwise. I don't have first hand knowledge of the motors other than that Dave's is a small block Ford, so I can't really say if the hull is faster than an Eagle or not. Both teams had motor problems, Dave took first in his class but I believe that was mostly through persevearance and quick recovery from a BIG motor problem in Marysville and Bob had to change motors there. One feature of these two hulls not really visible in the picture is that the cockpit is very far forward in the boat. Good visibility, or on the other hand, you get there considerably ahead of the motor.
Tim Harding set a new low upriver time (in the upper 18 minute range) only to find out Kings had set an even lower one.
Sunday - day two
We ran as hard as we ever have on the Rogue, I was trying to put us in any kind of position possible to get in the top three. The motor was running sweet, but the piece missing from the back of the delta pad was costing me about a mile an hour or maybe a bit more. We are still out of third by at least 2 minutes. The ONLY way is if one of the top three makes a mistake or breaks down, but I know this morning as we go upriver that it's really not in the cards. Dream Weaver has a monster lead on the rest of the class and Hugh would have no qualms about running the boat until it blows up to keep it. He's way too experienced to make ANY mistakes either. Jim and Michelle (11) are NOT going to make any mistakes, they worked very hard getting into third place. They also have a decent lead and can afford to motor. Brad Heinecke has raced too long to do anything dumb and his boat is all new. Well, I still get more enjoyment out of running the boat hard than I do any other aspect of racing so the bright side is I have an up run and a down run before we are done for the year.
At the top end we find out that Sharkies biffed it and sank, in Old Diggins I believe. Heard they had a problem because they had duct taped the bottom of their helmets to there suits to keep air out. I still find it quite amazing that they had never raced whitewater before, maybe there is hope for me in another class afterall! Those guys have had a class act all the way through. Top equipment, excellent racing skills and persevearance, is a combination that is impossible to beat until lady luck steps in and whacks you one in the back of the helmet.
On the run down it was very windy about mid way. We got a first, the wind picked us up and moved us sideways as we drove down off a riffle, it set us down about thirty feet to the right of the line I had picked. Thank goodness there were no nasty/uglies over there. VERY spooky. I know this happens all the time to you tunnel guys, but it was a new eyeopener for us.
Dave Arave's most recently reconsituted motor started to go sour and lose rpm so he shut it down, ended up parked at the same place he sank yesterday. With his willingness to thrash all night so he can race the next day, here's a boy who has a real future in whitewater racing! Might be a good idea to consider simpler more reliable equipment. That's perhaps not a fair assesment though, the motor only gave him a problem on the last up leg, it was rocks and bad luck before that. I can just tell we will be seeing a lot more of the Turbinator in the next few years.
Ernie and Brandi had some problems motor problems, and that dropped them to third in B class from a solid first after the Sharkie's sank. Two well known "refuse to quit" diehards moved up to first and second, Dave Provost 182 Straight Shot II and Matt Morris & Jake Linden 110 the Jokers, and that just goes to show you that this kind of racing is more than fast motors, finishers win too.
Unlimited was lockstep from the begining. Tim Harding and Spencer King continued to duke it out to the very last down leg, it was that close all the way from Marysville. Tim set a new upriver record only to have it beaten by Spencer in the same leg. Rob Pooley, in just a tiny bit slower boat, was right on both their heels the whole way just waiting for a falter that never came. Unlimited class this year was all about staying right on the edge and over when you could get away with it, but never blowing it. Right on the edge for this class was way over 100 mph and dancing. From my inside point of view it was an amazing exhibition, the subtleties of which were probably lost on most of the spectators. It was amazing, inspiring and a bit scary to watch and be around all at the same time.
In A class, this was the year of the journeyman racers. The Pelkeys, Joel Sheppard and the Sundbergs. All seasoned (and I don't mean old, ok?) race TEAMS. A-class rules allow big blocks up to 480 cubic inches with a single carb or injected small blocks up to 389 cubic inches. The top three finishers were all small blocks. All had injection EXCEPT for Joel, who has always done things different, and he ran a single carb.
C class was very tight and competative all the way through. I loved it. My favorite race was Colusa for the competition end of it because Sam Waller and I raced side by side in two very equally matched boats. My favorite race for turn and burn was Marysville, it's ALL turn and burn (and so damn hot another kind of turn and burn was experienced too.) The most technical, raise the hair on the back of your neck, river is the Rogue at Grants Pass, pure adrenaline for me. Next year I swear I am going to know every cut and channel like I know the Klamath. The best all around river with a good mix of everything along with a great town and spectators is of course Gold Beach. It was like going home to pull into Gold Beach.
Lynn and I have been working towards the worlds for the last four years, and I am very glad we did it. Looking back, the sport has changed in just those four short years, some for the better and some for the worse, but it will all work out as these things always do. I miss the racers who were just finishing up racing when I started, but I also enjoy all the new people I've had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know. This is an evolving sport, I can't wait to see what's next. I have been lucky to be able to be somewhat on the inside by racing, I watched for as many years as I have raced and the view is better from here.
Nothing I have every done in my life has given me the personal satisfaction and sense of accomplishment that this racing has given me with exception of raising my two boys. I am hoping to get them involved in this most unique of sports, Whitewater Jetboat Racing! See ya at the next race or fun run!