HOOPA 2005
5/11/05 Wednesday
Well, my coverage of the Trinity is starting a little early, to get it on paper before I forget. I have been watching the river flows at the USGS all week. Topped out at 20,000+ on Tuesday with all the rain. Merv says that there was to be a big release this week anyway to rebuild the redds (the beds that the salmon lay their eggs in) but am sure they had in mind about 6000 CFS, not 20,000!

Since Idaho I have repaired the rock damage and changed the advance springs in the distributor to bring total advance in later, about 4000. It was pinging at about 3000 rpm because it was all in by then and the pump loads the motor too well at that point. Changed from an AT bowl and short nozzle to a Legend Bowl and long nozzle, I think it�s a real Chrunyk nozzle, but don�t know for sure. Thanks Mark, best Christmas present I ever got! There is a small amount of machine work you need to do to put a Legend bowl on an AT suction piece, but well worth it, I gained all kinds of speed. That�s the good part, the bad part is that it got me going fast enough that I was beginning to blow out and that is scary as hell. You are screaming along, accelerating like a bat out of hell, the GPS just keeps going up and up when with no warning at all, POP, the boat is unhooked and flying about 6 inches above the river. If the wind is blowing anything but straight under the nose (which it was a few times), the boat starts this slow turn in the air to align itself with the apparent wind direction. Scary! Each time it landed and immediately straightened up, even if I was off the gas, not even a hint of hooking at all, but I had visions of it going all the way around while in the air.

I called Dave Provost and told him what I had going on and he had several excellent things for me to try. I have tinkered and hacked at the bottom of the boat over the last week or so, tried the things Dave suggested and low and behold, they worked! But, at the very extreme end of the top end if I hit even a little ripple, I am magically levitated to six inches above the river. I think that might be the stability altitude for my hull, the altitude when it is working best in ground effect for the speed it can now run. I can now feel it getting ready to leave the water and can hold it just below that point. It also takes a pretty good run to get to that point, about a half mile on a no wind day. So, that�s what I have to work with for Hoopa. Real fast, but there is a limit.

5/12/05 Thursday
Left Klamath at 5:15 PM. We remembered every single little thing we needed to go racing. Coffee maker, coffee, filters, cups, booze, GPS, spare parts, tools, etc, etc... but we forgot to get a new timer clock (essential) to replace the one that the rain killed in Idaho. We didn't remember until we were between Klamath and Eureka. Not like we didn't have a month between races to remember and go get one! We stopped at McKinleyville to begin the scavenger hunt. K-mart? Nope, but did score a great pop up canopy- Ray's? Nope. Ate at Denny's, foods food. Back into town to Safeway- nope. They had the same cookware section as Ray's, Great Cooks, but the egg timers they had only read minutes. West Bend makes the little timers we have used in the past. Nothing fancy, they are just egg timers with a clock that lets you set the seconds but they are just about perfect for us. On to Arcata, Gentoli Lane. Tanked up the truck. Lynn walked over to the shopping center and checked the other Ray's and the Dollar store. Nope and nope. Hey, a Radio Shack, it's worth a try. Found one! Actually two, we bought both of them and a stop watch for Lynn. Not West Bend, but better because they have really BIG numbers and I will be able to see them easier. Onward to Hoopa!

Made it- Went to Merv�s to leave the boat for tonight. Lots of racers over there, Poppy made us burgers and hotdogs, Merv had a keg (or two) in his shop. Scott Marshall and crew have put together a new FX hull; they used Greg Hegemeir's hull from last year, which was Steve Hanlin's step-tech from a couple of years ago. It is freshly painted and has flames that look like real flames, want to see it in sunlight, I'll bet it's spectacular. Merv's yard was full of race boats and racers. Gary and Andy Weaver had brought their brand new (maybe 2 hours on it) Sportjet. It�s a bit shorter and a bit narrower than the regular SJ, painted gorgeous DER red, very, very nice. It is pretty tiny but they found room for a serious sound system, complete with aluminum speaker boxes of course. I can�t figure out if it�s a little boat with a big stereo or a boom box you can run whitewater with! The music for the evening was Johnny Cash for some reason, and the highlight was that I got to hear his version of a DePeche Mode song (Personal Jesus). Pretty cool, but also pretty twisted.

5/13/05 Friday
Well, here we are at the Tsewenaldin Inn (the "T" is silent), room 108.
It's about 8:30 AM now, and in the nature of the way racing is done here, we will drink a few cups of coffee and then eventually amble down to the launch to see if we can get a ride to preview the river. After hanging out a while, Mark Sundberg gave Lynn, Merv and I a ride. Mark's boat is a 19 foot Eagle Sport, nice boat, comfy. They turn good too, even in bumpy stuff- kind of freaked me and Lynn out at first, we are not used to bombing that hard through corners with bumps in them, I guess we have forgotten how good old Cavefish was at that! Merv and Mark showed us the guaranteed safe way down & back.

Tech-in was to be around 4:00 PM at the Neighborhood Facility. It�s a nicely designed building, don�t know what�s in it, but also has a huge, very nicely maintained lawn, big Maple (I think) trees, just perfect for a tech-in and boat show.

I asked Dave to take a look at what I had done to the boat, which he said he was glad to do. He asked how the changes had worked and I told him they had all worked good, but it still blew out as I went through 87 mph. He ducked down and looked at the intake from about four feet away. With his first look under the boat he says, �I can see why this thing blows out�. If Dave says that from four feet away, it must be glaring.

We crawled under and he showed me what it needed, drew on the bottom with a pen even. He said the water was cavitating right past where the ramp started to lead up into the grate and then the flow separated from the hull, and of course the hull just took off to it�s preferred flight level, six inches above the water. It needed the ramp into the intake raised and extended back about 6 or 8 inches. It would probably need to be 3/8ths inch deep or more built up under there. Dave said he would do it, be glad to do it, wouldn�t take long, how much Bondo did I have with me? Well, ultimate prepared jetboat racer that I am, I had about two tablespoons with me. Not enough of course and I would need to go to Willow Creek to get some. So Lynn and me headed for Willow Creek. We got some Bondo, sand paper, sanding block and a piece of universal hole strapping for a straight edge.

Back to Hoopa to the motel, Dave and Brett are just heading for tech, so that�s where we all headed. If you have to crawl under your boat, or you have to ask your friend to crawl under your boat and fix it for you, when he should be tending to his own boat, then I cannot think of a better place than a nice lawn.

Tech in at Neighborhood Facility:

14 boats:

Randy Sundberg #200- brand new boat
Dave Provost #A182 Straight Shot II
Steve Hanlin #188 White Lightning
Duane Labrum #163 Tuff N Nuff
Dean Saxon #70 Adrenalin Pump
Scott Adams #155 TPRB (That Purdy Red Boat)
Merv George #13 Yellowhammer
Paul Bagshaw #15 Raven
Greg Hegemeir #07 Wide Open
Jeff Bradley #42 Morning Wood
Scott Marshall #27 Makin Bacon
Don Ruddick #09 Whole Shot
Jess Laforest #16 Thunderbolt
Gary Weaver #08 Budweiser

Here are a few things I noticed at the tech in and wanted to comment on.

Although it isn't painted yet, Randy and Garth's new boat is classic Sundberg; the best stuff assembled meticulously. Very,very nice. Likely very,very fast too. With vinyl but no paint it looks kind of skunkworks/military.

Meet Don Ruddick and Pete Nesbitt. Pete and Don are racing a 15 ½ foot Eagle Sprint in FX class this weekend as #09, Whole Shot. Here is this little boats lineage as far back as I know it: 1998 River Raider, silver & black raced by Denny Farster both in sprint racing and whitewater. 1999 Raced by Randy Sundberg in loaner/for sale status one race (Gold Beach). 1999 bought and raced by Mike Messick in whitewater, still silver and black and still the River Raider. 2002 bought by Steve Hanlin, painted froggy green and raced in whitewater. 2005, now with it�s current crew and being raced again, Don & Pete. Still Hanlin Froggy Green, still with the same motor that Denny put in it as near as I can tell. Still respectably fast, especially for a sprint hull. Still only hits the river about every 20 feet at top speed! Don and Pete are all smiles looking forward to racing. I don�t know how they got into trying this crazy sport but I want to ask them that, probably best to wait until all the legs are in the bag.

Between Roseburg and Hoopa, Scott Marshall and crew have painted and re-assembled the Hegemeir�s 2004 hull. The paint job is something else, flames are the highlight but they are uniquely painted as REAL flames. They just got it together and going and are still working the setup and tell me it�s not too fast yet. I have no doubt that it will be plenty fast by Grants Pass. They have a good attitude about it, and are happy just to have it going good enough to race here, not all that worried about being super fast just yet.

Scott & Bill Adams and Brad McMaster have converted the #155 B-boat to a BBFX boat. The motor is pure ZZ502 crate except for a high volume oil pump. Am very much looking forward to see how it works, more on this later on.

Darren Provost is back riding with his brother Dave this weekend, for the first time in about six or seven years. The last ride they had together racing ended up with the pump broke off the boat and Darren and Dave clinging to a rock in the middle of a riffle on the lower Rogue. Was it Two Mile? Man I just hate getting old and forgetful. I do have a vivid picture in my mind of the boat coming out of the water on the trailer, bent and twisted, and seeing the bowl wiped off the suction piece, shaft, nozzle and all. The bowl with the nozzle still attached was lying in the back of the boat I think, next to the motor where someone had tossed it. I remember that as one of those moments when I really realized that bad things could and sometimes do happen in this kind of racing.

Anyway, Dave worked on the bottom of my boat, did some magic Bondo stuff in the intake ramp. He did it in a very workmanlike manner. He had to put on three coats to get it thick enough, did it by eye and feel and it looked like it was done by a CNC machine when he got done... Art takes many forms I guess. Thank you Dave. He also pointed out a couple of spots that had a bunch of hook in them that he told me to get flattened out, so I did that, got them close anyway but am going to really go over them again before Grants Pass. The good news is, as we jump ahead temporarily to Saturday morning, the the little rocket will now run flat out without unhooking! Amazing! I still need another wedge, I don't have nearly enough up yet (I think I have 4 degrees plus the nozzle now), but very much good to go. Also would like to add a spoon before Grants Pass, we'll see how far I get.

The Calcutta was held at the Fox Hole, the VFW hall in Hoopa. Mike outdid himself from last year, they raised some serious bucks for just a crowd of racers and a few other interested parties. Merv's auntie bid on and got Merv, and that really means something, you might know what I'm talking about. I'd like to see Mike at a few other calcuttas, I think he'd do a great job.

5/ 14/05 Saturday
Drivers meeting is 11:00 and racing starts at 12:00 noon. We will be running six legs today, four legs tommorrow. Today, the first leg starts in the middle of the 10 mile course, so we run down ½ leg, up a full leg, down a full leg, up another full leg, down a full leg and then up ½ a leg to the original start in the middle of the course for a total run of 50 miles. We will be doing 45-minute legs, i.e. 45 minutes between leg starts. No break in the middle, all legs will be run consecutively. At the drivers meeting it was stated that fueling would be allowed at any start/finish point.

The river is high this year, about 13000 CFS compared to about 5500 CFS last year. At several spots Merv and the local race committee have placed sneaky green rollers strategically in the middle of straights, to liven things up and make a better show for spectators. They also flattened out the run under the bridge a little because so many racers complained about the bump there. Good job on the course, I like the improvements!

To be serious or as serious as I get anyway, in general the river is slightly less choppy, but there are some spots that got big and bumpy and the only way through is to go the short line and take your lumps. All in all, a slower course than last year and the boats that handle bumpy stuff better are at an advantage. There are some spots with rollers that bear remembering unless you like flying through the air saying �Wadda Fug, over?�

Weather was good, overcast early but this burned off and it began to warm up. About 75 degrees by race time. Everyone was ready to go, I didn�t see any last minute mad dash stuff....

The first set of starts went fine as far as I saw. We were starting down river and there is a lot of current right below the pits, so I pointed upriver then spun at :50 and that worked well. I didn't pay attention to which side of the river everyone was going through the first riffle and corner, only saw Merv, who I was starting right in front of us, and they did the left side like we were planning on doing. It makes the corner at the bottom very sharp, and it's loinger but on the other hand you get to run all of it except the corner pretty fast because you don't have to beat your way across the riffle at an angle. Greg Hegemeir was after me and Paul Bagshaw was after him. Because I still hadn't really gotten to run in bumpy stuff since the changes, I kind of felt my way down. I now work my way up to "flying out of the water sideways" instead of starting there and working back down like I used to, the first run down was pretty slow.

The corner above the bridge is wide open, there was a smooth chute on the right we took to line up. It had stuff in it though, probably wouldn't be a good idea if the river dropped at all. Getting to the bridge is a hop, then it's smooth under the bridge, hanging left and turning more left after the column. Right below that though is some of those rollers you can't really see. Got launched a couple of times there.

Down around the corner below the motel is two rocks hard on the right, room between them and the shore, and smooth, if you don't get all messed up getting in there- we took them down the rightside each time, didn't try to go inside them. Big bumps in the pool getting to the riffle at the top of the two straights. Got to wind it out in the upper pool, straightened out the corner at the bottom and wound it out again in the lower pool, at least for a ways, it got bumpy too. At the bottom of that was a good line between the bushes, at least 5 seconds faster for us then going way left and following the river around. More bumps, then another wide open shot to the finish line, which is on the inside of a hard right filled with whitecaps! I got us hopping and turning sideways in the middle of it all, ended up aimed at and proceeding towards the flagger at about 50 mph (says the GPS chart plotter) (Michelle was flagging then, I found out later!). Caught it it and limped across the line.

Greg was right there behind me, back maybe only 15 or 20 seconds, when we crossed the finish line at the bottom. Paul was there pretty damn quick too. Merv and Ken who started in front of us were already out of the boat and had the barbecue going by the time we got there. Have to pick it up, somehow.

The run back was uneventful except when I tried to stay left and go up the left side right past the flag. Bumpy as hell for us, at one point towards the top of that line we were sitting in one place hopping up and down and hitting the rev limiter. Finally got the hell out of there after a while! Not going back there either! The reason I tried it was because to get to the far side of the river and somewhat smoother water you had to crash through 5 or 6 piles of water, with the boat about 45 degrees to the current. This mess starts just about 15 feet past the flag. If you did manage to hit the line perfect and at top speed, the next stop would have been the willows on the other side if the river. But it was the best way after all if done with less than top speed, so that's how we did it from then on. Labrum's made their starts up the left side every time and made it work, so it's do-able, just not by me I guess.

Speaking of the south Idahoans, at the top of the first up leg, somebody came over to Paul and told him the best line they saw under the bridge was to the right on the way down, left on the way up, that the Labrums had run it both directions and it looked fast and smooth. So much for secret lines! You had to run just to the left of a big rock and just to the right of a pointy rock hidden in a pile of water.

Anyway, Saturday went well for everyone except Jeff Bradley #42 Morning Wood, Greg Hegemeir #07 Wide Open and Scott Adams #155 BBFX.

Scott is having a little problem with his brand new BBFX motor. The lifters are collapsing in their new ZZ502 (they can hear them rattling at idle) after just a little while at full throttle, the motor loses about 500 rpm. At the end of the day they are trying to determine if they should race Sunday. They are concerned with damaging their new engine by not knowing what is going on. I asked Scott how this motor compared with the B motor he is used to. He said it's all torque and of course doesn't turn up as high. I commented that it must be like going from a high winding Fiat to a Corvette, Scott said it was more like going from a Fiat to a tow truck!

Greg's carb flooded out and the motor quit and they went up the bank just down from the bridge. Same thing that got Merv in Idaho, a hop, fuel comes out the vents and kills the motor and you are a cooked goose. Very, very minor damage to the boat, like itty bitty scratches on the bottom and thats it.

Steve Hanlin and Steve Davis have made 6 good leg today. No avacado stunts this time.

Jeff's thrust bearing is howling, he said he is not sure how long it will last- Jeff and Dustin are both looking very concerned.

Our boat also started this howling thing. You could only hear it at idle at first. I asked around and everyone thought it might be the thrust bearing in the pump, said to see if that part of the pump was warm, which I did after every run. Not warm at all, but the howling kept getting louder. I left the motor running when I was pulled out Saturday after the last leg, as soon as the pump left the water the howling stopped.

Saturday night I pulled the bowl, tried to pull the shaft in and out, no play at all. The bushing in the bowl looks good and so does the shaft, but I doubt it would make the noise I was hearing anyway. Checked the driveshaft, it's tight, not u-joints and again, not the sound I was hearing. Put it all back together and greased the hell out of the thrust bearing. A little rusty water came out and then grease. Oh oh. That's not a good thing at all. Nothing to do for it but grease it some more and try to run it tommorrow.

5/15/05 Sunday

Day started with overcast and cooler than Saturday. We are running 4 legs today, a half down full up, full down and half up, about 30 miles.

Greg Hegemeir had dropped out, he is trying to sell his boat and after exiting the river Saturday, didn't want to tempt himself into wrecking it. Smashed boats are worth a lot less than cherry ones.

Scott Adams decided not to run and perhaps wreck their new motor. Not a bad choice me thinks.

Jeff is out too, I guess the bearing got to the point of tearing things up. We are running but I sure hope the bearing doesn't lock up or something when it finally goes away.

Much talk about the right hand side on the way down at the bridge. I looked at it from the lawn in front of the motel and also the runs through it on video. I don't recommend picking lines from video tape, but at least I knew this was possible because some people had been doing it.

We went down the right side on the short leg, wasn't lined up quite right and did it way too slow, should have just ran the left side like I had been. However, it was much smoother getting to the next corner! Going back up it was a hop and gone, way smooth getting to it, decided to charge it the next time up. Next run down I got the boat hopping and turning and ended up pointed at the lump to the left of where I wanted to go, so I just kept turning and went down the right side of the bridge anyway. Wasted lots of time there. Back up was on the left, again roar up to it, a good hop and then gone.

Lots of other boats went up and down on the motel side too, almost everybody except for Merv. And he ran plenty fast. Maybe he knows something?

Steve & Steve got to arguing on the way down about left or right at the bridge, they decided to split the difference and go right over the big lump of water in the middle.

Our bearing howling got much worse, could hear it over the engine and every leg the bearing housing was hotter and hotter. We made it, but that bearing is toast for sure.

Randy Sundberg has run flawless both days, and that boat IS very fast from the video I've seen. Hope we get to see it in Grants Pass.

The awards were great, better when you are getting a trophy. Everyone who showed up and ran got a check for $330. Cool.

So, it was time to raffle off the Wild Turkey. John Burns who is a water patrol guy from Shady Cove, Oregon went as far as having two t-shirts made that said Wild Turkey Racing on them. One he would give to the winner, if by some real long shot it wasn't him. Just before the raffle John got up in front of the crowd and told us that boats have spirits and since we had lost the Evil Clown boat in Idaho, the Wild Turkeys spirit was here to take over, something like that. He had us bow our heads out of respect for the lost boat. That got a couple of chuckles and then it was time for the raffle. Me, Dave, Paul, Gary and Marilyn came up to draw five pieces of candy from a hat, the red piece would denote the drawer of the winning ticket from the bingo tumbler. Marilyn drew first and got the red piece. Weird.
The tickets were duly tumbled and then the door in the tumbler was opened and Marilyn reached in and got a ticket. She handed it to Poppy George who looked at it kind of funny and then handed it to Mike Hostler who was emceeing the awards. Mike read the name "Adam Geis". Who's that? Everyone looked around. I found my voice and said "He's the navigator for the Evil Clown boat from last year!" Everybody pretty much said "Whoa!" in unison. Chills, my man, chills. I looked at Gary and Duane Labrum and they both looked stunned, they told me later they thought they had misheard Adam's name being called.
I do believe that if you had put it to a vote before the drawing who should win the Wild Turkey, it very likely would have been the Evil Clown team. Most amazing thing I have ever seen besides Dean's imitation of being shot off a carrier catapult that he did at the bridge today.

That was Hoopa for 2005- another GREAT race!!!

Cheers, Jesse