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magic number on the clock, wind and
currents can and will move the boat.
“When you’re on that rope for that time,”
says Gregory, “you’re constantly sampling
by letting go of the rope lightly to see if
the boat is drifting to the left or right, or
even if the wind is pushing you forward or
backward, so that you can compensate
when you let go. If you don’t, you have to
abort the run. These boats don’t turn easily.”
If the boat isn’t pointed down the course
when it’s time to go, the driver has a very
limited window to correct it, notes Daryl
Ehrlich, driver of Problem Child Top Fuel
Hydroplane and the 2013 champ as well as
record holder for both ET and trap speed.
“Say I mispredict on the drift and I’m a
little crooked, I have about 50 to 70ft to
correct the angle the boat is pointed. After
that, once it gets up on the propellers, it’s
going to hit whatever it’s pointed at, so
LUCAS OIL DRAG BOAT RACING SERIES
(MAIN) If this looks
graceful and serene,
don’t be fooled. Top
Fuel Hydro boats such
as Toxic Rocket are
lake monsters just
waiting to give you a
very bad day. (LEFT)
Like drag racing on the
competing in drag
boat racing a readily
you tap the rudder as much as you dare to
get it back in the lane.”
That’s the first thing that can go wrong.
As in every form of racing, there are many
things that can ruin a driver and team’s day.
“Occasionally the boat will decide not to
take a happy set,” says Ehrlich. “That’s when
you earn your money. The thing can do
some amazingly stupid stuff in a huge hurry.
It’s your job to decide when it’s too much.
You can pedal it – which means off the
throttle, let it settle for an instant, then right
back in it. If I catch it at just the right time,
it’ll roll back into a happy race mode and
sail on down the lake.” Of course, any time
off the throttle raises the elapsed time and
significantly reduces the chances of a win.
Other things that can go wrong include
outright failures. Brian Sanders was in the
Tequila Sunrise Top Fuel Hydro at Lucas Oil
“This thing can do some
amazingly stupid stuff in a
huge hurry. it’s your job to
decide when it’s too much”