Gold Beach 2002

The Gold Beach race came just that close to not happening at all this year. That would have been a shame as this race has been running continuously since 1988 and is generally considered the race of races. Through continuous applied effort by AWJA and lots of last minute local work by the folks at Jot’s, it was saved for this year.  But be on notice, the Gold Beach race is still in danger of expiring and needs help.

In 2001 the course was shortened from the 35 mile run from Gold Beach to Foster Bar to a 7 mile run from Gold Beach to Lobster Creek. Each day we ran three up and backs for a total of 42 miles per day.  This year to keep everything moving right along, our start times were 30 seconds apart instead of the usual minute. This worked great and I am sure the spectators liked it also. There was a long gap between the second and third up and back and the hydros ran in this gap. They got in four legs in this time period so it had to have been a great show for the spectators! All that falls in nicely towards remedying what we have all known for a long time, that this normally isn’t much of a spectator sport. This year there was racing all day long.

Gold Beach was glad to see us, and for the first time, surprised that we were there. Most people who live in Gold Beach weren’t sure that the race was happening right up until boats started showing up in town.

Bob and Alicia McKellar, long-time friends from Klamath, came to Gold Beach with us and Bob toured us up and down the course in his Wooldridge. The most appropriate boat to see the Rogue from that I can think of. The run from Gold Beach to Lobster creek is short, but we were running 6 legs each day, should have been a great show for spectators.

While we were at the top eating lunch, a little red Eagle came down river and tore around a little then pulled out. It was pretty quick but sounded funny- checked later and discovered it had a 240 horse sportjet in it! Nice package, light quick and probably hard turning.

Friday Night Follies

The Calcuttas for the jets and the hydros was held at the Rod & Reel, which was totally packed, and was a real hoot. Proximity makes for a better party I always say. At least they are good and loud that way.  Our auctioneer was great as always and with Dave Provost’s help, everyone got bought. I don’t know who went for the big bucks in either the jets or the hydros, but it was sure a lot of fun. Gambling, good food, cold drinks, dancing in the bar, lots and lots of bench racing… the perfect evening!  I do believe I saw a well-known motor builder finger wrestling with a well-known hull builder at one point. Maybe they were trying to settle that age-old question, is it the motor or the hull? They are also both well-known drivers so I doubt they were trying to figure that out. All in all it was an entertaining evening!

Saturday –

Well I am sorry to say, all I got to see after my one run up and back was the inside of my motor for the rest of the day.  It was a mess of water mixed with oil, the infamous chocolate shake mess. I don’t like this kind of racing and I am making changes. First thing to do is fire my engine man, he is useless. Jesse, you are fired.

What we did see on the way up and back on our one pass was lots of spectators. Thank goodness for that, I don’t know how they found out or when they all decided to come watch the races, but they were there in droves. Not as many as past races, but they were there. That is a GOOD sign.

The other really great thing about Gold Beach was the hydros. Any event we can do in combination with them is going to be a better event for both of us I think. Their start is awesome, twenty howling boats crank up all at once and roar off for the first corner. Spectators love these boats too.

The amazing Sharkie crew along with a couple of great guys and their very nice yellow B-boat drove all the way down from the frozen north (wise-guy way to say “Canada”, sorry I read to much Robert Service) to race. Rob Chrunyk was there also racing Leo Wright’s pre-run boat, but as it is slightly illegal in FX class, it was an exhibition run only. I am unclear if all those guys drove down together or not, but I did hear that several of them ran together and got to sample Washington states wild west pay-as-you-go ticket system. They give you a ticket then impound your rig until you pay it, said payment expected pretty much on the spot. I guess it actually would be better described as Pay-if-you-want-to-go….

The guys from Canada in the yellow boat were treated to a bit of unexpected and unintended local hospitality.  It seems that the driver of another yellow boat, who shall go unnamed, was telling his wife that they got flashed every so often by “hot women” on the beach as they drove by.  She decided to take this as a challenge and that she would flash them also the next time they came. So, next leg… Here comes the yellow boat, up comes the shirt- boat gets closer - Oops! Who were those guys?  Wrong yellow boat! I give her an A for guts, also an  A+ for improving international relations. B for boat identification, would have been a D but what the heck, flashing any boat, even the wrong one,  is worth a B any day! Hail Canada!

The boat that Rob Chrunyk was driving is an absolute rocket. It belongs to Leo Wright, a long time racer who now lives in Gold Beach. It’s a 17 foot step tech with a stock appearing motor. I was told that Rob was just doing an exhibition run because it had roller rockers, which made it illegal in FX class. It looks great as it dances on the back foot and a half of the hull and just screams. Very impressive and quite likely the best way to go in FX. He was able to catch Steve Hanlin on the way down and Steve’s boat is damn quick too.

Terry Sharkie and his brothers and crew came all the way down from Canada to race and test this one race. A couple of years ago he told me that when he left home to come to the races, his local river was still frozen, so they have to do their tuning and testing here before the race.  They are friendly folks besides being serious, wicked-fast competitors. Top drawer equipment and first class show. The boat is amazingly fast- I watched them test on Friday for awhile. They had one of those three piece CNC machined bowls on for a couple of runs, but that disappeared and was replaced by a standard looking bowl, though I doubt there is much standard about! The hull flys very high, higher than any other I can remember seeing. I don’t know if this is the speed they have it going or the setup or something else, but it sure looks wild. I am presuming the Canadians came down to tune for their race, which I will at the very least, go watch one of these days.

I have to apologize, but I didn’t get a lot of detail- mostly just what people have told me.  You don’t learn much about the races with your head stuffed in the back of your boat.

With lots of help from Bob, Joe Ross, and Eric, we stripped the suspect head off the motor and replaced the head gasket with one that Tim Harding donated (Thanks Tim!). It was no use, more water in the oil on testing. Discovered on tear-down at home that there were four cracked cylinders. What is going on? We’re done for this weekend, getting tired of that same old story.


Steve and Renee Soderberg offered us a ride in the sweep boat. Steve and Renee had traded their son Trenton to Renee’s dad and mom, Garth and Linda Sundberg, for the use of Garth’s monster 30 foot twin engine Eagle. Even with us, the start crew and several other riders, the boat was not crowded. The boat came WITH fuel.

Very interesting way to watch the races! Jim Ely and Larry Darnielle were handling the starts and flagging. Did a good job, too. But, I would much rather see Jim taking the flag instead of waving it.

You really get to see what a good start looks like from here- Also if the wind is blowing wrong you get misted.

Since the start boat was also a sweep boat, as soon as the last boat made it's start, we dropped the anchor line then hauled butt up river. For being 30 feet long and loaded with crew, the Twin Injun does a pretty good job of flying. Steve had to be physically restrained from working his way up through FX class, we had to keep reminding him that the sweep boat is always last no matter what.

On to Klamath.