HydroFest 2001 Write-Up
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The 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.


Click here for the pictures from this event, and here for the racing results.


Sunday 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 Mirage tandem.

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. 


Unfortunately, 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 between.

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 "Waterworld" ;-).

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 ;->.

The 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!

...Ron Drynan

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