following write-up was posted to the IHPVA-Boats Mailing List on August 14th,
2001, by Ron Drynan, HydroFest organizer, and the play-by-play of the 2K was
corrected by Eric Seeman.
for the pictures from this
event, and here for the racing results.
August 12th, 2001 was a great day for HPBs! 18 boats made it to Buffalo,
plus a couple of kiddie-PowerPaddlers, Frank in his FinSwimmer attire, and
Orrin's "Grunge Bucket III" instant boat held together with only
SikaFlex adhesive. There were two WaveBikes brought from VA by George
Tatum and Jeff Herrick of NCF; Orrin Christy and Linda Lindsey had their
SeaCycle; George Eicholzer and David Cruikshank brought their SeaCycle from
Toronto; I towed the LegShell and a WaveWalker from GA; Jake Free debuted his
OP-1 Spirit boat from IN; Grant Brooks came in from Toronto with his new
JetBlade paddlewheel add-on for canoes; the ProPhish guys came all the way from
UT with three WaterSkippers; Ray Buresch of HydroBikes flew in from MN to hook
up with Jim Chilton who is the local HydroBikes dealer; and we had reps from Oak
Orchard Canoe & Kayak in NY bring down a few standard kayaks plus an Hobie
I got in very late Friday night after 900 miles over the road, then met Orrin
and Linda at Hoyt Lake to set the race course early Saturday morning.
Orrin had made an ingenious set of a dozen buoys with cement filled coffee cans
or 2L pop bottles on the lake bottom, a rope up to the surface and through the
handle of a fluorescent painted milk jug, then down to a smaller cement filled
can which he calc'd to the desired amount of ballast for the jug. Ray and
Jim from HydroBikes dropped by during the setup, then headed for Niagara Falls.
Moving the buoys around was easy because they were self adjusting, so with me
surveying from shore and their expert maneuvering on the SeaCycle, we laid the
100m lane and slalom buoys faster than I'd seen it done before.
In late afternoon the WaveBike team arrived (George and Jeff), Frank met us at
the lake, and we all headed back to the RV parking lot to pitch our tents (we
stayed at the KOA and slept amongst the rolling houses). Dinner during
drywall installation at the Italian restaurant was good, Jake and Felix joined
us later and we sat 'round the campfire to talk boats & prop design, racing
stuff, and even had a chess discussion led by Grand Master Frank. It was
fantastic to finally put faces with so many e-mail addresses!
Frank and I did the set up at the lake early on Sunday morning while the boaters
prepared their craft. We were a bit worried about rain, but it never did
more than sprinkle, and the sky cleared by late afternoon. Temps were in
the upper 70s I guess, maybe 80, so it was a welcome relief from the heat wave
that had been gripping the area. There was never more than a slight breeze
during the event, which made for some great racing conditions. Also good
news was that the City of Buffalo had left the three docks installed for the
ASME Solar Splash event back in June, and that made life soooo much easier for
everyone. There were a few weeds around the perimeter of the lake, but not
many and none along the race course. Water depth is about 7' to 12', and
there's a nice long cement patio for spectators around one corner of the lake.
The Art Gallery and Historical Museum across the street made a nice backdrop for
us, the trees around the rest of the lake provided good scenery, and since there
are not normally any boats allowed on this little lake, we had no wakes or
traffic to worry about. I'd call this one of the best HPB race venues I've
seen yet, with the exception of its distance from where I live :-).
There was one absolutely horrible catastrophe, and I can't begin tell you how
bad I feel about it. Felix, his brother and Mom drove down from Montreal
with his new boat "Felix the Cat". The workmanship is
impeccable, and he's laid out the boat very much like "Close to
Perfection" with one major difference - the props are directly below the
riders' feet, beside each hull. The hulls are 24' and only 6" wide,
and from the looks of them they're very fast. He's even made them to break
down into three 8' sections each for easy stowing in a small trailer. In
true HPB tradition the boat had never been water tested before the event, as he
was still working on it at the campsite on Saturday night. I'd brought a
couple of George's Seagull props as loaners because the Bolly's didn't arrive in
time, and we were looking forward to seeing this boat in action.
all the parts didn't get stowed in the car or tent, and some low-life scum had
the audacity to steal a box with some critical components right off the
campsite!! What in the world are those cretins going to do with a bunch of
HPB parts?!? This left Felix unable to assemble his drivetrains, and he
could not find #35 chain anywhere nearby despite trying Home Depot and a local
hardware store. Between all the other boaters, there may have been enough
spare parts and tools to get him up and running, but without the chain and a few
other critical bits, it was hopeless. They handled the disappointment with
remarkable grace, and showing great spirit they wrapped PFDs around the
cross-braces for makeshift seats, then ran the boat through the 100m timing
traps with canoe paddles for propulsion. I think their time was something
like 46 seconds, which is in the same range as my PropCat V1.0, and faster than
many of the manufactured boats could hope for! Once again Felix, I extend
my sympathy for the injustice done to you, and I'm very much looking forward to
seeing your boat in full racing mode!
There was an excellent corps of volunteers helping take pictures, shoot video,
time the races, coordinate demo-ride waiver forms, man the brochure tent, sell
WaterCycling videos, and help with take-down at the end of the day. My
Dad, three of my sisters and a brother-in-law lent their services, as well as a
buddy who lives in nearby Toronto. Between them, Frank, and the HPBers,
everything found its way into and out of my trailer, and ran quite smoothly in
The racing results can be summarized easily . . . WaveBike won.
George was riding the racing version, and Jim Hawkings from Whitehorse, Yukon
happened to be in Toronto visiting family so he dropped by the HydroFest and
raced on a stock OEM WaveBike. George has done a fantastic job of tweaking
the WaveBike into a racing machine, and between he and his guest mutant-pedalist,
the rest of us mere mortals had no hope for gold. No displacement boat
sprint records fell because George was just 35/100ths on the wrong side of that
nasty 20 second barrier, but watching the WaveBikes dominate every event from
Sprints to Slalom to Criterium was quite inspirational.
George was kind enough to run my LegShell through the 100m, and it performed as
expected with the two short floats, clocking in at 27.79 seconds. My lame
attempt at a single sleeker outrigger float failed miserably, but I've got big
plans for improvements over the Fall and Winter. LegShell was not quite
fast enough to beat Jake on his "OP-1 Spirit" boat after his best run
of 27.76 seconds. You'll have to wait for the pictures for details on the
configuration of his long main hull with a large proa, but just to give you an
idea - I heard someone say they're pretty sure they saw one like it in the movie
We had very close results in the Slalom course, with George winning at 1:46.82,
and everyone else ranging between 2 to 2.5 minutes. For some strange
reason I couldn't talk anyone into running the LegShell through the slalom
course, but it might have had something to do with the fact that a Great Lakes
coal-freighter has a tighter turning radius.
The 2km Criterium this year was the exact opposite of last year's slug-fest
through the wind and weeds. With a clear course, no wind, and mild temps,
the entire field was running on overdrive. Four boats including the two
WaveBikes, Jake's OP-1 Spirit, and Eric Seeman on the WaveWalker beat the previous
course record. Jim Glover and Belinda Jeromechuck broke the Hobie Mirage
tandem's rear HydroSail holding clamp while making their last-lap kick.
They'd been barely maintaining a lead on the WaveWalker and intended to sprint past
Jake on the
last corner because the Mirage can turn more sharply, but with only one cylinder
firing and Jim paddling by hand they couldn't make their move. George and
David powered their SeaCycle in at just over 15 minutes which is within 20
seconds of the previous record, while George Tatum turned in an astonishing
11:39.88 to set the bar high for next year. As an added bonus, I'd
arranged for the local ABC News affiliate to come back later in the afternoon
for the multi-boat events, and she put a wireless microphone on George to have
him provide commentary live from the leader's boat. NASCAR's got nuthin'
on us - next year we'll have to try an on-board camera to catch the visual from
the rider's perspective ;->.
Drag Races were run in two heats with Scott Winoker in the WaveWalker narrowly
beating the SeaCycles and Mirage in the first round at 33.20 seconds. In
the second round we saw Felix run 27.81 seconds in the LegShell, hot on the
heels of the WaveBikes with Jim doing 26.03 and George winning at 22.86 seconds.
At the end of the day we ran the Static Thrust competition, and it yielded some
interesting results. This was the only event WaveBike didn't win, as he
gave way to George and David on the SeaCycle generating 72lbs of thrust.
George also gave way to gravity as he pushed the scale to 60lbs. but fell off
the boat on the side from which he'd removed the waterleg as part of his
boat-weight reduction program. Frank was able to generate 46lbs. from my
LegShell with George's Bolly star prop on it, then when he donned his mask and
fins he registered an amazing 40lbs.!!
The crowd wasn't as large as we'd anticipated, but attendance was light at the
Jazz Festival across the street, probably due to the threat of rain. We
did get a good cross-over and many people came by to check out the crazy boats
in the usually empty Hoyt Lake. I haven't counted the demo-riders' waivers
yet, but there were quite a few and things really picked up late in the
afternoon when the sun shone through and the concert let out. It was great
to hear the crowd cheering during the Criterium and Drag Races. In
addition to the Buffalo affiliate's ABC News coverage, a local cable station had
a camera crew on hand to tape a segment for their regular show called
"Crossroads". There were some interviews done and I've asked
Orrin to tape both airings so we can see how they turned out.
Once again, I'd like to extend my sincerest thanks to the City of Buffalo,
Buffalo CVB, Doug Milliken, Orrin Christy, Chuck Giglia, and Joan Bozer for
helping with the pre-arrangements, my family and the other volunteers, plus the
participants, all of whom came together to put on another great day of HPB fun!