BY SPNW Staff 08:30PM 08/03/2014

Judges decide Graham hydro is Seafair winner

The finish of the Seafair Cup had a little extra-time drama as judges, after video review that lasted nearly a half-hour, ruled that Graham Trucking won without a lane violation.

Graham Trucking, driven by J. Michael Kelly, swings out in front of the Obrerto boat driven by Jimmy Shane, in the decisive maneuver in the championship heat at the Seafair Cup on Lake Washington Sunday./ Gary Breedlove, Sportspress Northwest

Hometown driver J. Michael Kelly in the U-1 Graham Trucking won the Seafair Cup unlimited hydroplane race Sunday afternoon on Lake Washington, but it took race judges nearly a half hour of video review to make the determination.

Starting the championship heat, it appeared three boats, including Graham Trucking, crossed the starting line early, which mandates a one-lap penalty. But after the review, no start penalty was invoked.

KIRO-TV commentator Chip Hanauer said in his view, three boats jumped the start, which should have given the U-19 boat, Les Schwab Tires/Team RedDOT, driven by Jon Zimmerman, the win.

The judges apparently spent more time reviewing a maneuver in which Kelly moved lanes  to force wide the U-6 Oberto driven by Jimmy Shane, the favorite. Judges determined that Kelly had the necessary seven-boat-length lead to switch lanes. The Oberto washed down in the Graham roostertail and had its carnard wing broken, finishing third.

“I had the lead, I had overlap,” Kelly told KIRO-TV. “I bumped out to lane four and five. I’m allowed to go anywhere I want, and if he made ground up on me I was out in lane four. So I didn’t go any wider than that.”

In the first heat of the day, the U-96 Spirit of Qatar boat driven by Kip Brown, washed down in a roostertail, flipped and broke apart. As rescue crews descended, Brown extricated himself from the upside-down boat through the emergency hatch under the seat. He was treated for a sore neck.


  • RadioGuy

    There were no doubt hundreds of thousands on the shore Sunday, but how many people in Seattle really follow the hydros anymore? How many of the partiers at the scene could name one driver on the Unlimited circuit?

    I’m old enough to remember most of the boats and drivers in the late 60’s and early 70’s and also pulling a wooden hydro behind my bicycle during the summer. These days the Seafair race is little different from any other large-scale Seattle event at which people gather mainly to get hammered while watching something (anything).

    • Trygvesture

      me too. View Ridge. But from about 1958. Slo Mo IV, V, Wahoo, Thriftway,Thriftway Too, the Gale boats, Such Crust, Shanty, Maverick, Bardahl, Hawaii Kai, Miss US, Miss Madison, … Taggert, Schoenith, Col Russ Schleigh (sp?), Mira Slovak, Jack Regus (sp?), Muncey, of course, … wow, Geezer Moment.

      • poulsbogary

        Miss Bud, Pay N Pak, Atlas Van Lines, Miss Madison, Notre Dame(would you believe it), loud engines, little bit after you Tryg, but the same feeling.

        • RadioGuy

          Ahhh, those are the ones I remember, Gary. As well as also-rans like Van’s PX, Tempus and the Oh Boy! Oberto (times HAVE changed). And who could forget the Pay’n’Pal Li’l Buzzard? Seems like Leif Borgersen was always blowing an engine and usually sinking his boat, first in the Notre Dame and later in the U-95 turbine hydro. My mental image of Leif is a man standing on a sinking sponson waiting to be picked up by a rescue boat.

          I lived between Bellevue and Renton growing up and you could hear the boats roaring even that far away. We had a neighbor who watched the Blue Angels through binoculars from his rooftop one year…at least until he leaned back too far and ended up rolling off the roof to the ground. Only hurt his pride, but as a 13-year-old kid it was hilarious to watch. Good times

  • poulsbogary

    Why are the officials administering the boat competition still using a timer clock display that looks like it is from about 1982?