Gold Beach 2003
The first year I went to Gold Beach during the races was in 1995. I came to watch the Calcutta because we were going to try and put on our own Calcutta in Klamath next year at the Worlds race and we hoped to get some pointers. The boat show/tech in/Calcutta was held at the fairgrounds and when we got there, you couldnít find a parking spot. Anywhere! The place was completely packed. It looked like all of Curry County plus all of a couple of other counties were there. I was totally surprised by the huge crowd of people that came to look at the boats and also by the amount of money that was raised at the Calcutta.
At that time, I knew exactly zip about the boats and racers other than that all the boats had pumps and that the racers all seemed just a little larger than life. Somehow, more alive.
I canít tell you exactly how many boats there were, I donít know who won what or any of that. All I can tell you is that I was stunned by the amount of hardware in the boat show, itís obvious cost, the obvious work that went into all the unique technology and the astoundingly large crowd that showed up to be involved in it all one way or another.
Jump ahead to 2003, again just before the US Worlds. In the years since 1995, there has been high points and low points. The 2000 Worlds was a high point, but in the last few years the race has tottered on the edge of extinction. The course has been shortened and there are fewer teams racing. The sparkplugs behind all the races up to the Worlds have moved on, after having put together a decade and more of amazing events.
This year the race almost didnít happen again. If it werenít for the single-minded devotion of Jim and Marilyn Fosback, it wouldnít have happened. They spent two hard weeks in Gold Beach doing everything but sitting on the corner with a cardboard sign, sticking the poor old thing back together from scraps. I heard they did a little door-to-door in there somewhere too.
I was proud of how the racers stepped up, everyone that had raced anywhere this year and that had anything at all left that was runnable, came and raced. We all knew going in there would be no purse, (turns out there was after all), but they hacked their stuff back together, bought a bunch of expensive race fuel and came anyway. That one fact alone has convinced me that the people racing now are as much dedicated racers as the folks we started racing with. That is a good thing to know. Good on you all.
Lexís Landing, which is just downriver from the Mailboats, hosted the boats for parking and pits. They had striped their grassy parking lot with chalk to keep things organized and had rented a couple of port-o-potties. They were also setting up a barbecue when we pulled in. It looked to me like they had just finished building new docks, dock ramp and fish cleaning tables. Very nice, I am not a fisherman but I have had a few things to do with docks, ramps and fish cleaning tables over the years. Lexís has some nice ones! The docks were boarded with those plastic 2 x 6ís, they should last just about forever and NO splinters in your feet and knees. Nice docks!
The boat show and tech-in was at Jotís at 5 pm. Thank you everyone at Jotís, you run just about the classiest place to have a boat show I can think of, and your solid support over the years is very much appreciated.
I got to see some real live jetboat wizardry at the boat show. Paul Bagshaw was digging deep for another mph or two, and was doing some unspecified but highly secret stuff to the intake of #277 "Unpredictable". It involved Bondo (or Bog as it is known in other lands), magical smoothing pudding, various grades of "papers of sand", blocks of rubber, chunks of wood, magical and highly sought after "Wands of spreadature", pieces of cardboard, little bits of unidentifiable materials, much scurrying to and fro after "treasures" and "plunder". It also required unfathomable consultations with several friendly "Oracles" (Dave Provost and Phil Taylor). After several incantations, which modesty and profanity statutes forbids me from repeating here, and after the ritual abrading of the Bondo (or "Bog" as it is known in the southlands), the conjuring was pronounced a success. No animals were sacrificed in the performance of this ritual, although I believe Dan WAS out looking for a goat with Sethís help, just in case it became necessary. I swear I saw little pixies flying out of the nozzle about half an hour later!
Paul under the boat, Rich pulling security.
There were several new teams there! Merv George came all the way from Hoopa with his wife Wendy and family, Duke and Merv George III, his navigator Horse and several crew whose names I am sorry I did not catch. They had the boat that was built by Dave Provost back in 97, now called "Loud Music" and running as FX-13. Boy, that boat never looked so good! Lots of shiny aluminum and chrome, and a stunning red/orange/yellow paint job with rainbow sparklies in it. Merv said his friend polished the whole rollbar and the fuel tanks to the point that they look like chrome, in one evening, powered only by a cold pack!
Another new team was the #169 "Rude Awakening" Eagle campaigned by Brodie Miller and Harry Sargent. It also had a stunning paint job, you could look at it for an hour. We saw this boat in Marysville with no hardware in it yet. Ready to race here at Gold Beach!
Mark Illingworth and Jerome Rector had a teeny FX boat, #66 "To Hell and Back" that was just barely 14 feet. It had plenty of motor though! Those small blocks look huge in one of these hulls, almost like a Hot Wheels car or something.
Terry Sharkey, Jim Moffatt and Eric Knoblauch towed all the way from Canada again. Long haulÖ Phil Taylor was up from Marysville to navigate with Terry again in Terryís A-class #276 as yet unamed boat running his #2 motor. Jim and Eric were racing Terryís hull from last year, also running their #2 B-class motor in it. (Just to confuse things a bit further, thatís B-class and C-class respectively in Canada) When I saw Jim at the restaurant Friday morning he told me they had painted their boat red while at home. I thought, wow, these guys are determined! Drove all the way home to Canada from Marysville, stripped the boat and painted it, re-assembled and drove back down here to race. I was going for it, but I was accidentally given the straight scoop later on by a totally uninvolved bystander, who happened to be in the know. Boy Jim, you had me going, but the truth will always come out you know! And faking me out is like shooting frogs in a shoeboxÖ hard to miss! That doesnít sound right- maybe itís like shooting toads in a toolbox? ducks in a bear hole? Whatever it isÖ
Say Jim, what would you say those are over there??
Why Eric, I believe we are being flashed again!
Golly those Bells sure look good out of the bags, don't they Jim!
They sure do, looks like somebody's been waxing them, Eric!
A-class shaped up to consist of Paul Bagshaw and Rob Soule #277, "Unpredictable", Justin Boice and Steve Burks #221 "Boice Jet", Terry Sharkey and Phil Taylor #276, formerly "Russian Roulette". That is three very damn fast boats and crews.
B-class was Dave Provost and Rich Boice in #182, which is Rich Boiceís new bare hull with a warmed over ZZ4, designed to get Dave through the last race and hopefully preserve his points lead in B-class. Toby Smith had to sit this one out- saw him all weekend, looking pretty bored with watching. Dean Saxon and Bob Nicklason #107 "Velocity" -One More Run- , Seth Bogner and Mitch Gomes #177 "Exhibitionist" with a new hot-rod motor chasing Dave, Jim Moffatt and Eric Knoblauch #161 "Not Guilty" from Canada and winners at Marysville, Brodie Miller and Harry Sargent #169 "Rude Awakening" new boat, new racers, looking good.
FX-class was Steve Hanlin and his daughter April (because it was Fatherís Day weekend) #45, "Catís Sass" the winningest boat Iíve ever seen that was just being test driven. (Steve has racked up an impressive string of firsts so far) Jeff Bradley and Dustin (Kurt) Van Hulzen in #42 "Morning Wood", the only other team scoring a first this year in FX, Jesse LaForest (me) and Lynn Mouser #16 "Raven", the big black boat, Mark Illingworth and Jerome Rector #66 "To Hell and Back" great name and first race, Merv George and "Horse" running #13 "Loud Music", all the way from Hoopa, Ca. Also first race in jetboats, former Hydro racers.
Will Chandler and BJ Wyatt were not there with the Chandler Racing #211 "Danger Zone". Will still cannot stand up too straight, he has a serious inner ear problem that is being treated. Gary Padgett and Bill Padgett #114 "Hot Pursuit II" also could not make it, their former V-8 having downgraded itself to a V-7 in Marysville and still not ready to go.
At 8pm, a Calcutta was scheduled for the Rod and Reel across the street. We had a great dinner with Bob and Alicia McKellar, Morgan Heuberger and Jackie McKellar, and Jason, Candi and Haleigh Mouser. Man, I love Razor Clams and they make them good at the Rod & Reel. Good drinks too!
Jetboats and Hydroplanes were auctioned off to an enthusiastic crowd, which packed the place. We took off before the last dog was hung, before the last hurrah and well before the fat lady sang. We gathered up the boat and headed to the motel. Weíre racing tomorrow. I need my sleep.
Surprise! No clouds, no rain, just a real nice day! We were expecting overcast skies at best, rain at worst. Isnít it great when the weatherman is wrong sometimes? Maybe we will even get a little wind!
The tide was way out both days in the morning so Bob and Morgan launched us at the Port and we motored up to Lexís. They are still working on the bridge and have a caisson around the north-most bridge pier, and running full tilt through there is probably a bad idea, so the races were started upriver from the bridge instead of in front of Jotís.
The staging area was from the bridge up to the downriver end of Lexís Landings docks, the launch area was the length of those same docks. The flag was on the up river end of the docks. Having the length of the dock to judge your run up by should have made it easy to get a good flag and it did.
Justin was setting up to launch at the same time we launched, but didnít make the start. Somehow, mysteriously, a bunch of water had gotten into his fuel tanks. I want to say a lot of really rude and pointed things about immature, boneheads that do stuff like this, but I guess I will have to be satisfied with calling them boneheads.
Because it was low tide, the left channel around the island at the first turn was high and dry but that did not stop at least one boat from exploring it. I heard they came back out, but not right away, and pulled the boat out.
The eleven miles was a full throttle run the whole way. Dave pointed it out, and itís true, but the section we race now was given almost no consideration in years past, it was just a piece of river were we ran flat out, and watched the motor, thinking ahead to the tricky stuff. A piece of river we had to get through to get to the technical stuff. It is now the whole course. As for my own efforts, I was trying hard to keep the boat flying 100 percent of the time and turning as little as possible so it would continue to fly. One of these days I need to do some testing to see if it is faster to take a big apex around a corner, flying, or bomb up to the inside of the apex, drop the nose, turn, then accelerate again. I was also looking for shallow water for lift and evidence of wind on the water surface to see if I could get a little air under the boat. I did manage to slide through some gravel in one of those shallow spots on the way up.
On the way down it was the same routine, except I again slid some gravel that had a thump at the end of it. No dent, though I thought for sure there would be one from the sound of it. Kwik Krafts are tough boats. I told Bob McKellar about it and he told me " No big deal, rocks and gravel coming out the nozzle are thrust too!"
A-class was like it always is, tight! Paul Bagshaw and Terry Sharkey were very, very close. Terry beat Paul up river by two seconds, then Paul beat him back downriver by three seconds. They ended up one second apart after the first up and back!
The next up and back I stayed out of the gravel, but not the shallow water. Steve went way faster than us, we were stuck solidly in second again. By the end of the day, Steve had racked up fifty seven seconds on us in 44 miles. Thatís a bit over a second a mile which figures out to be, uhhh, well, faster than us! Jeff Bradley was right there behind us, running as hard as they could, waiting for the slip up. Merv and Horse were running hard too, and it was great to hear them laughing and hollering at the top end, they were having a good time! Mark Illingworth had a very bumpy ride, the little sprint boat was only hitting the water every thirty feet or so, but they were keeping the pedal down the whole way. Believe me, I know what that ride is like! Your eyeballs start floating after about a mile, and you find yourself hanging onto whatever you can grab with a death grip. Rich Boice observed that they appeared to be doing a "porpoisy-chinedance thing".
Both Terry Sharkey and Paul Bagshaw improved their times, and both were blowing out, but Paul gained on Terry just a little, finished the day just 14 seconds ahead. I talked to both of them later and they both had gotten very wild rides, both for the same reason, wind.
In B-class, Jim Moffat was absolutely flying, right out of the gate they pulled a big lead on the rest of the class. Seth was holding in well with Dean on the first set of legs, but started losing their new hot rod motor I think and were out. They didnít run the next day either. #169 Brodie Miller was also out, motor I assume. Dave Provost and Rich Boice were battling an untested, not setup and misbehaving hull, Dave doing big stylized s-turns all the way up the river and back to control the hopping. It wasnít fast and it wasnít pretty, but they did finish third for the first day.
Tee-shirt salesman extraordinary, young Mr. Ely.
More nice weather! I forgot to mention before, but the barbecue that Lexís put on for us was great. The BEST, without qualification, barbecue chicken I have ever had.
Good stuff going on the grill at Lex's Landing.
The tide was an hour later and very low again so we launched once more at the harbor. Justin Boice was running today, they had gotten going again and tested Saturday evening.
We spent all four legs again trying to get the most out of the boat and the course. Didnít let up once on any leg, no more gravel and also could not improve my times a bit, in fact I lost eleven seconds somewhere along the way. Likely, it was because Sunday was warmer than Saturday. Motors like cold, moist air. Thatís my excuse and Iím sticking to it! Everybody seemed to run slower except Jeff, who ran faster! I think he was sneaking up on usÖ The final results were Steve Hanlin first, Jesse LaForest (me) second, Jeff Bradley third, Merv George fourth and Mark Illingworth fifth.
Jim Moffat and Eric Knoblauch ran four more awesomely fast runs, cinching their number one spot in B-class. On the first down leg the thrust bearing in Dean Saxonís pump went on vacation. Dean and Bob were parked just down from the start line a ways, not the best possible end to a great come back. It was however, a great set of runs from Marysville to here! Good job you guys. Along with the other two B-boats that had gone out, this put Dave Provost solidly in second and also preserved his US points lead.
More outrageousness in A-class! Terry Sharkey took back 5 seconds of Paul Bagshawís 14 second lead, Paul still winning by only 9 seconds after 88 miles of racing and 8 starts. Justin Boice ripped off some crazy runs and beat both of them by about 45 seconds for the day, but due to not running Saturday, finished in third. The result was that Paul Bagshaw won day one, Justin Boice won day two, Paul Bagshaw won overall, Terry Sharkey took second overall, and Justin Boice took third overall. Awesome racing!
more coming, I'm still pecking away at it.....
Marty and Jessica-