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.