North Bend’s Brian Perkins finishes fourth in Seafair race
August 15, 2012
By Sebastian Moraga
Sometimes, fourth place is as sweet as first.
For North Bend’s Brian Perkins, last month’s hydroplane race at Seafair was such an occasion.
This year, tight finances have limited his schedule to two races, one in Tri-Cities and another one in Seattle. In Tri-Cities, his hydro did not make the finals.
Last year, he did not finish Seafair after the propeller fell off his boat.
All reasons to rejoice after the fourth place in this year’s race, in the Unlimited category.
“It was better than we were hoping,” he said. “We had a boat that ran pretty well but not as well as we would have liked, so the fourth overall was kind of above our expectations.”
His top Seafair finish was third two years ago.
The Unlimited season continues with races in San Diego and Qatar. Perkins’ Unlimited season is over, but not his racing. In the 5-Liter category, he races a smaller boat, with encouraging results.
“We’ve taken third and second in that boat,” he said.
Hydroplane racing is growing, Perkins said, with a new race scheduled for Sacramento next year, and rising interest in going to China in the future.
Diehards of the sport itself do not send much information to newspapers and newspapers don’t research the sport much, Perkins said. As a result, the sport remains somewhat anonymous during nonSeafair months.
Nevertheless, Perkins encouraged children wanting to become hydroplane racers to approach teams. If you are willing to do the grunt work, the sky is the limit, he noted.
“Go to one of the Unlimited shops and start volunteering at one of the teams,” he said. “Sweep the floors, wipe the boat off, whatever your expertise, help out. You’ll meet the team owners and the mechanics, and you can start racing the smaller boats.”
That might mean having to buy your own equipment, Perkins said, but teams may have people willing to lend equipment.
A 27-year-old driver, Perkins said athletes in his sport can keep doing it for years. The winningest driver in the sport is Dave Villwock and he’s 58. It takes hard work, conditioning and staying healthy.
“If you sit on the couch and drink beer all winter, you probably are not going to be good at it,” he said.
He said he would like to continue to race, but if he can’t, it’s OK.
“It wouldn’t be a devastating thing if I didn’t race boats anymore, but it certainly would be something that I would like to do as long as I can,” he said.
With the joy of a successful Seafair race still evident in his voice, Perkins said the most fun is not succeeding, it’s working as a team with passionate owners, mechanics and sponsors.
“I’m proud to be part of a team that has as much drive and passion and fun as these guys do,” he said.
Sebastian Moraga: 392-6434, ext. 221, or email@example.com. Comment at www.snovalleystar.com.