Shane's quick thinking in U-5 helps avoid hydro disaster at Seafair

By Bob Condotta, The Seattle TimesAugust 6, 2012 

SEATTLE -- Jimmy Shane is only 26 and technically a rookie on the unlimited hydroplane circuit.

But he's been around long enough to know what to do when the throttle malfunctions and the boat won't stop -- which happened to Shane, driving the U-5 Graham Trucking, following Heat 2B of Sunday's Albert Lee Cup race at Seafair on Lake Washington.

A similar situation happened last year to Shane in Doha, Qatar.

So Sunday, when Shane felt the throttle give way during the heat -- apparently due to the rough water conditions -- he knew what to do. Realizing the boat wasn't stopping as he approached the dock, he took a hard left and hung out in the turn.

He then unclipped himself from the driver's seat and reached down and pulled on the pedal with his hand to allow the boat to turn off.

"I knew I had to figure out some way to shut it off," he said, calling it simply another day at the office.

That the water was rough enough to cause such an incident might have seemed surprising considering the pristine appearance of the lake on a day when there was little wind.

Eventual winner Steve David of the U-6 Oh Boy! Oberto, though, said the appearances were deceiving.

"It's funny, it looks smooth now," he said during a break in racing. "But when you get out there, because there is no wind, the (waves) are just staying there waiting for you. It's rough."

Bumper boats

It wouldn't be a Seafair without a little controversy, and there was more than enough to go around in Heat 3A, which featured the top three boats in the season points standings: the U-6 Oh Boy! Oberto, the U-1 Spirit of Qatar and the U-5 Graham Trucking.

It appeared initially as if the U-6 and Steve David had held off the U-1 and Dave Villwock as well as Shane.

But about 20 minutes later, officials assessed penalties to David and Villwock for encroaching on Shane as the boats neared the starting line and instead finished fifth and sixth.

Villwock was also stripped of the 95 points he would have earned, which dropped him behind David in the season points race.

Shane said he bounced off both the U-6 and the U-1 as they all made the final turn before the starting line.

David said he thought he had an established lane on the inside and that it was Shane who had come up into the middle forcing himself between the U-6 and the U-1.

Consolation heat thrills

The race of the day came in the provisional final -- a heat that involves all of the boats that did not initially qualify for the winner-take-all final, with the victor earning a spot as a trailer.

The U-100 Miss Fox Plumbing and Greg Hopp had the lead for almost all of the first three laps before being caught right at the end by the U-88 Degree Men and Scott Liddycoat.

Note:The estimated attendance for the Cup was 155,000 for all three days, and 61,000 for Sunday's finale.

Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or

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