Weather disrupts traditional hydro race around the island

A crowd of about 175 people came out to see the racers off early in the morning on July 4, but conditions were too windy. (Tom Hughes Photo)

A crowd of about 175 people came out to see the racers off early in the morning on July 4, but conditions were too windy. (Tom Hughes Photo)

It was a beautiful Fourth of July morning as the sun came up glowing red over Portage. Inner Quartermaster Harbor was flat calm, perfect conditions for hydroplanes. But at the Jensen Point park launch ramp, the five hydro drivers ready to run the traditional around-the-island race were concerned with the wind blowing strong out of the north.

The wind meant that as soon as they left Quartermaster Harbor and headed up the east side of Maury Island, they would be running headlong into a stiff wind, dangerous conditions for the little hydros.

Veteran racers Evan Mattingly, Ty Christophersen and Mitch Van Buskirk discussed strategy for the wind and when to turn around if the water was too rough with Ben Nelson and first-time racer Evan Hills.

The five hydros took off as the sun rose above Maury Island, and about 175 onlookers cheered them on. Minutes later the sound of returning hydros was heard; upon reaching the mouth of the harbor, the racers felt the water was too rough, and the hydros turned around. Mattingly hit a log near Manzanita and lost his lower unit, forcing him to head to shore and wait for help. Roger Stanley, who started the tradition, remarked that it was one of only a few times in the event’s 60-year history that at least one hydro did not make it around the island.

Brian Brenno,

Unofficial event time keeper

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