Hydros return for Black Lake Regatta

There will be thunder on Black Lake this weekend as the usually calm waters play host to the American Power Boat Association’s inboard hydroplane Grand Prix class.

The 25-foot limited hydroplanes with 1,500 horsepower will be the highlight of the Skookum Creek Tobacco & Kamilche Trading Post Championships at the 38th annual Black Lake Regatta in Olympia.

Races run today and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and can be watched from Evergreen Shores Community Park.

Last year marked the first time Grand Prix hydroplanes raced on Black Lake, which has long been considered to feature some of the fastest water in the world.

Shockwave Racing, owned by Olympia’s Rick and Shawn Bridgeman, proved just how true that theory was in 2010 when their boat, Miss Ted’s Red Apple Market, driven by two-time national champion Dustin Echols, set a world record, posting an average lap at 116.129 mph on the 11/4-mile course.

Echols, who won G-Class national championships in 2008 and 2009, will once again drive the speedy hydro.

Unfortunately for Shockwave Racing, last year’s world-record performance turned bittersweet when the Miss Ted’s Red Apple Market was unable to finish the second day of heats. The boat struck debris which tore a two-foot hole in its starboard sponson.

“We did make some changes to the boat this year to try and make it faster,” said team manager Shawn Bridgeman, whose husband, Rick, also serves as crew chief. “Setting another world record is obviously a goal, but there are plenty of others out here that are capable of breaking it as well. Our first concern is to win.”

The Grand Prix class will run two heats today and Sunday – each taking place at approximately 2 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Each heat will consist of four laps.

“They are definitely the boats people come out to see,” Shawn Bridgeman said of this hydroplane class featuring big-block engines supercharged to 120 percent over the crankshaft.

“It’s the rooster tails, the noise, the sheer horsepower they have. People really enjoy seeing them race,” Bridgeman said. “Plus Black Lake has some of the best water in the United States to race on. We’ve been looking forward to coming back here with the Grand Prix all year.”

In addition to the Grand Prix, the Black Lake Regatta also hosts the Union Internationale Motonautique world championships in Super Stock, Pro-Stock and K-Runabout classes.

Additional races include the Crackerbox Division, a class featuring a driver and a spotter in the boat, national modified, outboards performance, Comp Jet, Inboard Endurance, 1 liter modified, 2.5 Stock, 2.5 modified and 5 Liter.