This hydroplane was due to compete at Oak Harbor. They pulled off the jetty and headed towards the track but, for some reason, they broke down. They were left drifting just outside the jetty for a while. The driver climbed out of the cockpit and was left to wait for a tow to come along. It took a while for a boat to come to their aid. They weren’t drifting fast but they were slowly heading away from the shore and towards the course. They were taken care of long before they got anywhere risky, though.
The hydroplane races at Oak Harbor had a variety of classes of contenders. Many of the boats appeared on course from a marina across the harbor but the most exotic of the boats were operated from alongside the spectator area. A pit area was set up on the shore. Here the crews were busy preparing the boats to race – occasionally carrying out engine runs. There was no slip so the way boats were put in the water involved a crane lifting them up and depositing them alongside a jetty close by. The initial lifts seemed to be a bit slow and inaccurate but a little practice and they were soon moving them across and back after the races with ease.
It’s been a long time since I watched any hydroplane racing. The Kankakee event in Illinois was a fun one to attend, not least because the constraints of the river meant it was possible to get really close to the action. Racing is quite popular in the Pacific Northwest and one event was scheduled for Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island. I decided to head along and see what it was like.
I was quite surprised how easy it was to attend. I found parking conveniently close and got a waterfront spot to set up with ease. Plenty of people came and went during the time I was there but it never felt terribly busy. The racing took place in the harbor and it was a bit distant for all of the spectators. The good spot to watch from would have been across the harbor but that was within the naval facility so out of bounds for the rest of us.
The course provided for some good angles on the boats as they made the first turn. The second turn was rather distant. The PA system was well away from me and the program seemed to be only vaguely related to what was happening so most of the time I was oblivious to the classes that were racing at any one time. The more powerful boats were staging from the pits near the crowd but many of the smaller boats would appear on course from the marina across the harbor. I would just watch them going around and try and figure things out from the flags on the course boats.
It was a sunny day so sitting next to the water and watching the occasional race was pleasant. Not knowing what was going on was a bit harder and the random feeling of when a race would occur left me a bit confused but I got to watch racing and get some photos so hardly a bad was to spend a Sunday afternoon.
Top Gun 2 is in production at the moment. There has been much activity around the Super Hornets on the west coast and their involvement in the film with one jet getting photographed a bit in Pete Mitchell’s colors. What I didn’t know was that the production has been on the road. While up at Whidbey Island we saw a Super Bug launching towards us. Based Growlers are of interest and Super Bugs less so but we still shot it. As it got closer, it was clearly painted up differently and we realized we had Maverick’s plane in frame. It flew a straight out departure and we didn’t see it return before we left but it was kind of a pleasant surprise to get it at all!
Paul and I headed to Whidbey Island on the hunt. We would be happy to shoot a variety of stuff but P-3s were the goal. Whidbey still has them but they are disappearing fast so get what we can. As it turned out, we got a ton of P-3 action but it was all with the same plane. It flew a bunch of circuits after returning from a training sortie and then finally landed. However, it wasn’t done. A crew change and they were back up. That plane got some use that day. We could hear another engine running but it obviously wasn’t going flying. Here are lots of shots of one specific P-3 instead!