Sunday, May 19, 2024

Brewster Thunderfest hydros return for second year


Brewster – The second annual Brewster Thunderfest – Tony Newton Memorial Regatta unleashed its own hydro-power brand of high-speed adrenaline thrills – and even a spill - at Columbia Cove on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 2-3.

The “spill” – in this case, a flip – came during the Saturday afternoon heats when the No. 12 Monkey Business racing in the 2.5-liter stock division, caught a sponson in the water and executed a 180, landing upside down in the Columbia River. The driver, J. Michael Kelly, managed to exit the overturned craft with nothing more than a sprained wrist and was hauled aboard a rescue boat.

To illustrate the fine tolerance required to drive on the cutting edge of disaster, this was no rookie driver. Kelly, an experienced H1 unlimited hydroplane pilot, won the most coveted award in the sport, the Gold Cup, at last May's Seattle Seafair Festival hydro races on Lake Washington. It was Kelly’s second Seafair appearance.

The racecourse oval in front of Columbia Cove covered 1 1/4 miles with four laps comprising a five-mile race. Race categories with awards for the top three finishers in each class included:

2.5 Liter Modified      


2.5 Liter Stock            

1 Liter                   

1.5 Liter Stock

Cracker Box         

Sportsman Advanced 

Sportsman Entry

Sport C 

Vintage class boats received presentation plaques.   

The Tony Newton Memorial trophy awarded to the weekend’s most valuable crew member went to Kevin Porter who drives a 1- 1-liter boat.

The race was sanctioned through the American Power Boat Association and held by Pacific Northwest Racing Association #496.

Despite the Saturday mishap, race director Jim Labrie said the remainder of the events finished as scheduled.  “We had everything tied up by about 3 p.m. Sunday,” Labrie said.

Jim Labrie is trying to make the Brewster hydro event a community-wide experience by adding other attractions to the weekend. This year he invited Okanogan Angels, a local dog rescue non-profit that set up its info table and dog adoption pens at the Brewster Boys and Girls Club. The BBGC also hosted a car show that drew several owners of flashy vehicles. Labrie said he will attend the September city council meeting to deliver a report on the weekend’s highlights.

Mike Maltais: 360-333-8483,


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