Hydros return to Oak Harbor to help residents in Pateros

Hyrdros race during a 2013 event on Soap Lake in Grant County, Wash. - Courtesy of Chris Denslow
Hyrdros race during a 2013 event on Soap Lake in Grant County, Wash.
— image credit: Courtesy of Chris Denslow

This weekend’s revival of the Oak Harbor hydro races is for a good cause.

During the two-day racing event, slated for noon to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Oak Harbor Marina, donations will be accepted to benefit Pateros residents who lost their homes in devastating fires last month.

Pateros, with a population of less than 700, is a regular stop for the hydro races. In light of the tragedy there, the hydro racers want to continue to support the small community by holding the Pateros hydro races as scheduled. The Pateros races are Aug. 23-24.

“It’s a cool statement,” said Oak Harbor race organizer Michelle Curry. “They’re saying this place is alive, not dead.”

Curry said the small community of racers are “family” and raising money to help Pateros proves their loyalty to their fans.

Flyers Restaurant and Brewery owner Jason Tritt, a sponsor of the Oak Harbor races, said he knows people who live in the Pateros area. He said they are resilient and dedicated to rebuilding their homes.

“Those people are not leaving,” Tritt said. “Those communities are small but super loyal.”

Race organizers are asking for donations in the form of money or gift cards from Home Depot, Lowe’s or Walmart to be made at the information booth to help Pateros residents rebuild their homes.

As for the hydros event itself, Tritt said, “I can’t wait.”

Tritt said he remembers watching the mini hydro races that were part of the Fourth of July celebration when he was young.

“It’s really more like a resurrection,” said John Greet, a volunteer organizer for the event. Greet said he’s been “burning up the phone lines” to get volunteers to help with the beer garden, hot pits and other areas.

New to the sport, Greet said he’s now a complete hydro fan.

“On the day, I’ll be right there in front,” Greet said.

Curry said she is expecting more than 10,000 attendees.

The free event will feature a beer garden on the grassy field on Bayshore Drive, along with food vendors and live music. Food and beverages will also be available on the marina side of the harbor and near the hot pits, where fans will have limited access.

Attendees will also be able to ride in a hydro simulator for $5 and get autographs from racers after the races. Curry said some racers from Seafair will be participating in the Oak Harbor event, but the names have not yet been announced. Seattle Drag and Ski will be running the races, which are very competitive and highly regulated.

A few VIP waterfront suites, which go for $1,000 for the entire weekend and fit up to 15 people, were still available at press time. Individual tickets in the same area run for $70.

Open-toe shoes will not be allowed in the hot pits. No log booms will be available and anchoring out will not be allowed this year, Curry said.

The Coast Guard and the Island County Sheriff’s Department will be stationed on boats at the mouth of the harbor to ensure boats remain out of racing area.

Maui Gate and Maylor Point Trail will be closed both Saturday and Sunday. Both will reopen normal time Monday, Aug. 18.

Viewing the races from Maylor Point will only be allowed to those with base access.

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