Seafair hydro race comes down to close decision

by: KIRO 7 STAFF Updated:


J. Michael Kelly drove the Graham Trucking hydroplane to a win Sunday afternoon at the Albert Lee Appliance Cup at Seafair.

After reviewing the start, officials confirmed Kelly held off Jimmy Shane, the 28-year-old driver of the Oh Boy! Oberto hydroplane.

“It’s like a chess game out there,” Kelly told KIRO 7 “We didn’t show our hand today and it worked out exactly how we planned it.”

Before Kelly was declared the winner, there was talk of a possible 1-minute penalty in the final heat.

“I had the lead, I had overlap,” Kelly said. “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.”

The Seafair victory was another big win for Kelly, who won the first of Team Porter’s four Oryx Cup World Championships in November 2009. He piloted the Graham Trucking hydro in 2009-10, when he finished on the podium eight times in 12 races.

The Blue Angels also returned to Seafair Sunday after missing last year’s finale because of federal budget cuts.

“Now they're back, you can feel the vibe-- you really can,” spectator Nick Vacca told KIRO 7. “I didn't come last year because of the fact that they weren't here.”

More than 700 Marines are in Seattle for Marine Week, a celebration held in a different city every year that features the latest in equipment and technology as well as combat demonstrations. Seafair also added another feature: the North Beach Food and Wine Festival.

On Saturday before Heat 1B, Dave Villwock in his Beacon Plumbing boat got tangled up with top qualifier Jimmy Shane in the Oberto. Villwock, who is the all-time leader in Hydro racing wins, was suspended by H1 Unlimited for his actions on the water.

Villwock was put on notice before Seafair because of several incidents of aggressive driving in Tri-Cities, so the collision with Shane was the final straw for H1.

Shane described the hit: "I had cut inside the course to pick up my timing marks for the start, established my arc and all of a sudden, didn't even see it, didn't know what it was bam! I turned around and looked back and all I saw was a yellow boat."

Villwock on the other hand said it was just a racing deal: "I don't know what he was thinking, I don't know if a radio guy told him I was there. But I anticipated him following along to the starboard and it just didn't happen."

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