The 2019 World Jet Boat Championships came to an end yesterday with the final leg of the race on the Peace River near Peace Island Park, and concluding with the awards banquet at the Fort St. John Curling Club, which saw more than 400 people in attendance. The championships were a grueling affair that spanned eight days of racing, and saw many boats take damage and face adversity, while also featuring some excellent racing with teams from New Zealand, Mexico, Canada and the United States, and more than 60 boats competing.
Near the end of the race, the Kiwi Kiwi team from New Zealand, consiting of driver Nigel Cromie and navigator Bruce Cromie had their boat catch on fire out on the river. The team was able to get the boat to shore and escape safely, but dropped from second in the Unlimited Class to third as a result.
"To Nigel and Bruce, that was one of the most unfortunate things we've seen this weekend but we're glad you guys are safe, and fast at getting out of a boat," said Dale Whiteside, master of ceremonies at the banquet.
Claiming top prize in the Unlimited Class, and top overall boat, was the American team, Bat Outta Hell, driven by Ross Schlotthauer. Rick Hollingworth and his Little Smokey boat passed Nigel Cromie to finish second.
"We want to thank everyone in Canada. If there's anywhere to win a race it's here in Canada, and the best river racers in the world are right here," Schlotthauer said.
The Unnatural Disaster team of driver God Humphrey and navigator Jason Palfy finished fifth in the Unlimited Class, as a result of boat damage sustained earlier in the week. However, they regrouped and were one of the fasted boats in the final two days, and were awarded a memorial award for pushing through adversity in the sport of jet boat racing and showing perseverance.
Speaking about a friend who was killed in a river-boat accident last year, Humphre said, "It takes a lot to stand up and keep going when something like that happens. We do so through the family we have from racing. We don't do this for trophies, but because we love the sport and we love each other."
The winners of the other classes are:
CX Class: Aftershock, Justin Hill, New Zealand
FX Class: Reverse Elevation, Tanner Froehlich, Canada
A Class: Aquaholic, Tim Greber, Canada
U-Spec Class: Are Mayhem, Regan Redlick, Canada
The other three Fort St. John drivers in the race were Stacy Kelm (sixth), Trapper Wolsey (eighth) and Clayton Wolsey (12th). All three racers competed in the CX class.