American Sprint Boat races
• Gates: 8 a.m. Racing: 10 a.m. Saturday, July 25
• Extreme Sports Park, 2917 W. Edgewood Drive, Port Angeles
• Tickets: $25 adults, $20 military/ seniors, $10 Ages 6-12 and children 6 and under free
Round I ASB World Championships on Aug. 22 at the Extreme Sports Park
Round II, Aug 29 at Webb’s Slough in St. John
Edge of your seat excitement races back to Port Angeles’ waters this weekend.
The Extreme Sports Park, 2917 W. Edgewood Drive, hosts the second race of the season for the American Sprint Boat Pro Racing Series on July 25. Boaters also return to the course for the third race of the season on Aug. 22, which serves as Round I of the World Championships.
More than 20 boats will storm upwards of 90 mph over three feet of water in three classes — Super Modifieds, A-400s and the unlimited super boats. Heats are less 10 minutes apart keeping the pace frenetic.
Driver Paul Gahr Jr. of Sequim enters his eighth year driving a sprint boat, Live Wire No. 2, with his two children Joshua and Taylor splitting navigating duties.
At their first race on June 20 in St. John, Gahr Jr. said they had some electrical issues and made a wrong turn on the course resulting in disqualification in the semi-finals.
“We had troubles all day, but that’s racing though,” he said.
As the second race approaches, Gahr Jr. said he’s beginning to have sleepless nights in anticipation of getting back on the water.
Last year, Gahr Jr. said the competition in the A-400 division was tight with half a second separating many of the racers last year.
Adding to the intensity, teams aren’t shown their racing sequence of about 30-plus turns or so through a maze of gravel islands until the night before the race.
“There really isn’t practice time beforehand,” he said. “It’s show up race day and get four chances to run it correctly.”
Teri Cummings, a navigator for 10 years, said on the night of the race she recommends people not talk to her while she studies the layout.
“I’m in the (course’s) sand and grass walking through it like a lunatic,” she said. “There’s up to 40 turns we have to remember.”
Cummings, a Sequim resident, navigates for her son Dillon Brown in the super modified class boat Jeepers Creepers. She said some drivers prefer to learn the turns too but some do not.
“Dillon doesn’t memorize it. He’s concentrating on the RPMs, oil pressure and making the turns,” she said.
The duo communicates turns, Cummings said, through hand signals.
“The motor is so loud that there’s no way to verbally tell him where to go,” she said. “We tried using mic’s but they don’t work either.”
Since its first race on September 17, 2011, Dan Morrison, co-owner of the Extreme Sports Park, said the races continue to grow with upwards of 9,000 people attending each event.
“The sport is growing. Demographically we have a bigger fanbase than just Port Angeles,” Morrison said. “The goal is to keep growing.”
Cummings said a large part of the growth comes from word-of-mouth.
“Once you are there and smell the air everything radiates in your body,” she said.
A large part of that is the MAVTV network airing their events with spectators flying in from across the country and world for the races now, he said.
“I was surprised 40-45 percent of crowds are from out of the area,” Morrison said.
With the world championships beginning on Aug. 22, teams from New Zealand and Australia were invited but due to some economic issues Morrison said he’s unsure if some of their teams will be able to attend.
As a special treat for the Aug. 22 races, Cummings and the Dungeness Bay Seahawkers, a booster club of the Seattle Seahawks, are planning to bring Mama Lynch, Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch’s mother, to the event to ride in a boat, hand out awards and make appearances.
For more information on the races, visit http://www.extremesportspark.net.