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Waves of excitement

Racers test course as attendees catch first glimpse

OBSERVER Photo by Jo Ward Hector Rosas, city of Dunkirk Festivals and Special Events coordinator shakes hands with Wayne Valder of Profloors racing out of New Zealand.

Putting together the Dunkirk Great Lakes Offshore Grand Prix has been no easy feat for city officials, but the work has more than paid off as the various racing teams and of course Race World Offshore, have enjoyed what they’ve, experienced so far, immensely.

“Everyone is so enjoyable and nice, happy and excited, so enthusiastic,” Race World Offshore Producer Rodrick Cox stated. “This is a really neat race course. They get to come in on the inside of the breakwall and go out. Everyone’s loving it.”

Race World produces individual races and today there will be three heats happening at 12, 2 and 3 p.m. When asked about how the city, or any city for that matter, gets something like this going, Cox commented that the city is usually the first to reach out, then it goes from there.

“Usually we go to a city that’s interested in producing a race and then we come in and meet with some of the officials,” he said. “First we see if it’s a viable location and then two see if it’s a good race course, three, if it makes sense for everybody and their schedules, then go from there.”

Racers had the chance to try out the interesting course Saturday, and it gathered spectators and officials alike.

OBSERVER Photo by Roger Coda A power boat zooms near the pier where onlookers sit Saturday afternoon.

Jay Muller, throttle man for WHM, brought a six-person crew with him, and in his 30-years of racing, he loved what he saw with the smaller but tighter course.

“The course is awesome,” the New Jersey native said. “We’re having a great time up here, can’t wait to come back, right now we’re second place in points and we have two wins this season. We had a hard couple of races but we won the last one so we’re hoping we’re on a roll.”

The WHM boat is a Super cat 40-foot Skater. It weighs 9500-pounds, has two 750-horsepower sterling motors and can reach a top speed of about 140 mph.

Tyler Miller, of MCON, is the throttle man of a Supercat 40-foot Skater as well. His group, out of Kansas, is in its second year, but has a larger crew compared to some groups there, numbering at 10. Though they like the course they worry a bit that their boat is a bit heavier than the others, but that doesn’t always mean anything as a good team can still pull off a solid win.

“Water’s a little bumpy, which is what we like,” Miller stated. “(It’s all) about figuring out the course, all the markers. It’s a very exciting course, we’re looking forward to it. It’s different in regards to most venues we go to.”

OBSERVER Photo by Roger Coda Mark Webber of the Cleveland Construction race team pulls in the power boat along the pier. Racing begins today at noon.

The team that came the farthest by far however is a Profloors out of New Zealand. It took them roughly 24-hours to get to the city — 14-and-a-half of that was just the flight time.

“We raced in Australia and are three-time New Zealand champions,” Wayne Valder, driver stated. “We’re the first New Zealand team to win the Australian championship, and we want to be the first Kiwi team to win the American Championship as well.”

Their chances felt good in his mind, even though they are used to the bigger waters of the oceans that surround their home.

“We’re running pretty close to third place at the moment. If we get a win this weekend that’ll move us up to at least second place.”

Months upon months of planning went into this event and Fire Chief Mike Edwards mentioned how they are working with several other organizations to keep the event safe and exciting for all. He wanted citizens however to be aware that just because such a huge event is in town, it won’t hinder any needs of the public.

OBSERVER Photo by Roger Coda Attendees watch Rich Volker perform stunts in the sky.

The race will stream live in 105 countries and be televised through CBS. It’ll be replayed in the beginning of February.

As for local spectators, Rodrick Cox had this to say, “Come early.”

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