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Hydro fans get preview of August event in Oak Harbor

Adrienne Sandall places her 1-year-old son Nicholas into the cockpit of a racing boat on display at Flyers Restaurant Saturday. Hydroplane racing in Oak Harbor takes place Aug. 16-17.  - Ron Newberry/Whidbey News-Times
Adrienne Sandall places her 1-year-old son Nicholas into the cockpit of a racing boat on display at Flyers Restaurant Saturday. Hydroplane racing in Oak Harbor takes place Aug. 16-17.
— image credit: Ron Newberry/Whidbey News-Times

Placing 1-year-old Nicholas Sandall into the cockpit of a slick-looking racing boat was the easy part.

Getting him out was another story.

“He likes cars and boats,” said his mother, Adrienne Sandall of Oak Harbor. “He didn’t want to get out of the boat.”

Little Nicholas joined older kids and many adults whose child-like curiousity came out at the sight of several racing boats and hydroplanes on display in front of Flyers Restaurant & Brewery in Oak Harbor Saturday.

The boats came to Oak Harbor as part of a “Show & Shine Boat Show,” which was intended to give local residents a preview of the sort of boats that will be buzzing across the harbor during the Oak Harbor Hydro Races Aug. 16-17.

The event also gave locals a chance to meet boat owners, drivers, organizers and rescue team members, who were on hand to answer questions and promote their sport.

Oak Harbor is the newest stop on the American Power Boat Association’s Region 10 circuit.

Boats from 13 inboard racing classes will compete in Oak Harbor from flatbottom Super Stock runabouts to Grand Prix hydroplanes.

Large-budget unlimited hydroplanes showcased at Seafair are not part of the circuit but are a major source of inspiration.

“Seafair did most of us in,” said Jerry Dugan, a former racer who now owns a Super Stock boat driven by co-owner Jeff Gibson.

Their bright yellow boat, titled the “Lemon Wedgey,” was particularly popular Saturday with the public. Raffle tickets were being sold with the winner receiving a free ride with Gibson on race weekend. Tickets, which cost $5, will remain on sale at the Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce office on Highway 20 until the drawing on Aug. 10.

Gibson, 53, who’s worked for Boeing for 27 years, has been racing since 1997. He’s crashed four times but has escaped major injury.

“It’s a rush,” he said. “You get 6 or 7 minutes of pure adrenaline from endless hours of preparation.”

It’s become a family affair for the Gibsons with race venues substituting for traditional vacation sites. This weekend, the destination is Soap Lake, in its second year on the circuit.

“Last year, I took the mayor of Soap Lake for a ride,” Gibson said.

Adults and kids climbed into the cockpits of various race boats to get a feel for what drivers experience. One driver revved the engine of his boat, providing a loud roar synonymous with inboard racing.

Adrienne Sandall was glad she brought Nicholas and her daughters Brianna, 5, and Caitlin, 3, to see the boats, along with her sister Sandy Quinores.

“They enjoyed seeing the boats,” Sandall said. “They can’t wait to see them out on the water.”

For more information about the Oak Harbor Hydro Races, go to www.oakharborhydros.com

 

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