Jimmy Shane, a 27-year-old relative newcomer from Maryland, upset veteran favorite Steve David in the Oh Boy! Oberto, the three-time defending Seafair champion, to win the Albert Lee Appliance Cup on Lake Washington Sunday.
Shane went wire-to-wire in the Graham Trucking boat to win the seven-boat final. David was outside in lane four as the field approached the start and never mounted a challenge, losing by the length of two roostertails. The Spirit of Qatar, piloted by Kip Brown, finished a distant third.
Shane did not finish a qualifying heat Saturday, and needed to win one preliminary heat and finish no worse than second in another to qualify for the final. Shane appeared to have a struggle to start his boat Sunday in the final, but eventually fired up and had a flawless final five laps.
David, who maintained his national points lead, was attempting to equal legendary driver Bill Muncey’s record of four consecutive wins at Seafair. The triumph was the first at Seafair for Graham Trucking, a longtime hydro sponsor.
The bigger story was the low crowds along the shoreline and logboom. The usual throngs were diluted by the absence of the Blue Angels flight team. Budget cuts forced by the sequestration deadlock in Congress eliminated the entertainment that was a big part of Seafair each year since 1996. Last year’
Another acrobatic flight team, the Patriots, performed, but the Blue Angels spectacle sold the event for many.
I am a life long Seattle resident (50 years), and have attended many Seafair and Tri city races. The luster of Seafair just isn’t there for me anymore. Its over regulated, over priced, and over policed. It doesn’t have anything to do with the blue angels.
I’m hearing a similar theme from others, Joe. I understand the city wanting to recoup some money for the cops and cleanup, but apparently they’ve choked the life out of the event.
I’m with Joe. I’m over 50 and grew up in the area long enough ago to remember pulling homemade wooden hydros behind my bike and racing with my buddies pulling their own versions. The Seafair races were huge in Seattle and all three major TV stations carried them live all afternoon, although I’d turn the sound on the TV down and turn up KJR on the radio to listen to Pat O’Day (who is the ONLY air talent ever to “get” how to call them). Once I’d heard KIRO-TV wasn’t bringing him back this year, I lost any remaining interest because he was the only connection I had left. The Blue Angels were a nice add-on, but they were only an add-on that you didn’t have to be down near the water to see.
Seafair is now about boats that sound like they’re taxiing for takeoff at Sea-Tac instead of the roaring Rolls or Merlin engines that you could hear across the lake in our neighborhood north of Renton, sponsors and drivers that don’t have the same name recognition with fans that a Miss Bardahl or a Bill Muncey (RIP) had, taking your family means sharing the park with the heavily-policed bacchanal around you (think Spring Break with boats) and just an overall corporate atmosphere that has sucked the fun out of it.
The modern version of Seafair is a microcosm of how what used to make Seattle “Seattle” is all but dead. Why pay to witness a funeral?
I hear these complaints all the time, and it’s entirely off-base. What is frustrating to me is the how inaccurate they are. There is no “Wild Bacchanal” and heavy police presence. Seafair did a spectacular job of shutting that down over 15 YEARS AGO. They instituted a no-tolerance policy on alchohol, opened the beer gardens, and it has been a consistent “family enviroment” every year.
If you can come up with some spare V-12’s to run, I’m sure the teams would be happy to take them off your hands. The Allison’s and Rolls’ Merlins don’t exist in quatities that allow for their use in anthing but historic aircraft flights (think the Paul Allen Flying Hertiage Collection, for example). The turbines that they Unlimiteds now use are more reliable, and every boat finishes their heats. The rose-colored glasses you’re using are clearly clouding the memories of 4 out of five boats DNF’ing, and parades of boats rather than actual racing.
Am I a bit passionate about this? Yes, I am. But more because of the inaccuracies that are continually reported: the lawlessness on the beaches (a blatant lie), and the lack of competition (an uninformed observation).
115,000 is still a darn good-sized crowd. and its greater than any other local event/festival (including the Bite and Bumbershoot).
Why so eager to gleefully stick the knife in? Instead of using your prejudiced viewpoints of the event, try it out and see if maybe a bit of what I say is correct.
One point I was trying to make is that I kind of miss some level of “lawlessness” on the beaches and in the boats. I feel like the races have been turned into an event akin to attending the “family oriented” Mariners game, which at times can be awfully boring. Give me the crazy non-family Seahawks game any day. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to advocate a return to the Tri Cities atmosphere in the early 1980’s, and I understand that in this day and age there is a concern for overall safety at this type of event, but to me things have gone a too far in the direction of regulation, cost, and police presence. I guess as a society we probably can’t go back.
No Blue Angles, overcast and rainy the previous couple days making for a bit cooler (but still awesome) temps, a problematic economy and an awesome Sounder game IMO all play roles in attendance being a bit down. But I agree that 115,000 is still a pretty big crowd. Seafair should really look at re-examining their marketing strategy as well as the events they offer. Probably time to update things.