World Jet Boat Championships in Taylor this weekend for final four legs

After eight gruelling and rainy legs of racing, the 2019 World Jet Boat Championships are headed to Taylor for the final two days (and four legs) this weekend, Saturday and Sunday. The drivers are off today, and things resume tomorrow with two races down-river at 9 and 11 a.m., followed by the circuit races at 2 p.m., which can be observed from the Peace Island Park boat launch. 

"The weather should be better tomorrow, and we'll have a good setup for the fans. We'll have live action up on the big screen, and beer gardens as well on Saturday and Sunday afternoon and we're hoping for a big turnout," said Jason Palfy, president of the Peace Country River Rats and navigator for Unlimited Class driver Gord Humphrey. 

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Unfortunately for Palfy and Humphrey, a former world champion, they won't be taking home any hardware this year. After leading the class for five legs, their boat Unnatural Disaster took damage on Wednesday, July 17, preventing them from finishing that leg and starting the two legs yesterday. 

"We’re out of the running, trying to get the boat back together and finish the race off. We just had some difficulties with the boat, it sent us down a trail we didn’t want to be down," Palfy said. 

Humphrey is currently last in the Unlimited Class with a time of 3 hours, 58 minutes and 16 seconds. Ross Schlotthauer of U.S.A. leads the class at 3:11:33. 

Unnatural Disaster isn't the only boat that's had trouble this week. Palfy said the amount of rainfall is taking its toll on the boats and turning the championships into a test of whose boat can survive the longest.

"It’s been a hard marathon, a lot of mechanical breakdowns. There is lots of material damage due to the high waters from rain, guys bouncing and taking a few licks, but some guys are putting heir way through it. It's about longevity and getting through the whole thing," Palfy said. 

The other three local drivers, including defending world champion Trapper Wolsey, are in the middle of the pack in the CX Class. Trapper is currently eighth in the class with a time of 4:46:55, while Stacy Kelm is sixth with a time of 4:28:34. Trapper's brother Clayton is 12th with a time of 5:14:30 and has had boat troubles himself. Justin Hill of New Zealand leads the CX class with a time of 4:09:36.

The final leg, and only one on Sunday, begins at 10 a.m. The championships will conclude with the awards banquet at the Fort St. John Curling Club at 6 p.m. on Sunday. 

Email sports reporter Dillon Giancola at sports@ahnfsj.ca.

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