A little extra water can’t stop Salty Sea Days hydro races

By Leslie Moriarty

Herald Writer

SILVER LAKE — What’s a little rain when it comes to a water sport?

At least that was the attitude of the 90-plus outboard hydro racers as they took to the water on Silver Lake Saturday afternoon.

"The rain doesn’t bother us," said racer Patrick Gleason of Edmonds. "Never. It’s a water sport."

Although fans may have been few, powerboat racers with the Seattle Outboard Association were out in number in the wet and wind-ripped conditions to take part in the five hours of races, part of the Salty Sea Days celebration in Everett.

Salty Sea Days continues today with a number of activities including more boat races, a carnival, music and food.

While the weather may have kept some fans away, it didn’t keep loyal fans from paying $1 and entering the pit area to get a close look at the boats.

"It’s not as busy as last year," said Britt Remillard of the Seattle Outboard Association, as she collected dollars in the pit pass booth. "We’ve really had quite a few people out, considering the weather."

The crowd was estimated at less than 50 spectators, said Jan Shaw, a promoter of the event. But she said 90 boats registered, and that made this, the 38th annual Salty Sea Days races on Silver Lake, as big as many in the recent past.

"We’ve got boats here from all over Washington, from Oregon, Vancouver, B.C., and even Idaho," she said. "These races are pretty well known and everybody likes racing on Silver Lake."

That’s the case for T. Patrick Kelly of Auburn. A limited hydro racer for 14 years, the 46-year-old uses it as a way to relax from the pressures of his weekday job building elevators.

"The neat part about this is that the members of the Seattle Outboard Association are like family," he said. "If one of us has a problem, others will help out. We’re competitive. But we make sure everybody gets out on the water."

Case in point: Kelly’s niece, Kristina Kelly, was on the water Saturday in a boat she borrowed from member Carl Lewis of Federal Way. She was spinning around the lake at midday in second place, with her proud uncle looking on.

In various classes and heats, the racers make three laps around the marked course. Racers are judged by speed. Earlier in the day, Patrick Kelly raced at about 60 mph.

"It wasn’t my best, by any means," said the racer known for his bright orange boat. "It’s pretty breezy out there. My boat got a lot of slop from the other boats. With that, you can’t take off very easy."

He was hoping that his later afternoon laps would bring him a better scoring speed.

The sport is considered by members to be a great family thing. Kelly is a third-generation racer. He’s invested about $4,000 in his boat and races almost every weekend from June to September.

Some of the racers on the lake on Saturday were as young as 11, and as old as 70.

Anne Shabel of Everett came out with her husband to watch the races while he worked in the concession stand for the Kiwanas.

"I’m ready for it," she said. "Anytime I come to Salty Sea Days, I just know to bring my raincoat and my umbrella.

"I’ve been here 16 years, and you learn not to let a little rain stop you."

To learn more about the Seattle Outboard Association, call 206-860-8618, or check www.seattleoutboard.org.

You can call Herald Writer Leslie Moriarty at 425-339-3436 or send e-mail to moriarty@heraldnet.com.

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