If you hear a thunderous roar echoing across the Peace River Valley this coming weekend, fear not, as the DFI Peace River Gold Cup Jet Boat Races will be the source of the noise.
Taking place from July 13-15, the annual event will bring in racers from all over the world including Mexico, New Zealand and Idaho, as well as local racers from the Peace Region and into the N.W.T.
Peace River native Mac Mccue, who races in the FX-V Class, participated in his first race this summer in Grande Prairie and won the event, so he is looking forward to attempting another win at his hometown race.
“I’ve watched the race in Peace River for the past eight or nine years, but this will be my first time competing in it so I’m definitely excited to be in front of the home crowd,” said the 22-year-old, who happens to be the youngest racer in this year’s event. “It is really competitive but it’s more fun than anything.”
Mccue just recently got into competitive racing, though he’s been around Jet Boats for many years.
“I got into it after I started crewing as a mechanic for my friend Tyson Allen, who’s also racing this weekend,” he explained. “I ended up buying a boat from him when he got a new one, and now we get to race against each other, which makes it pretty fun.”
Allen, who has roughly five years of racing experience under his belt, will drive the S.S. Adrenaline in opposition to Mccue in the FX-V class and welcomes the friendly rivalry.
“It’s really nice to have somebody so enthused and ready to go; it kind of rejuvenates myself as well because he reminds me of myself when I started,” Allen said of Mccue. “He’s really gung-ho about racing so it will be interesting to see how he does this weekend.”
For those who have yet to take in a Jet Boat Race, Allen says the experience can be fun for people of all ages and interests, and suggests the Saturday circuits as a starting point.
“You get a look at all different kinds of boats, there’s different classes and easily the fastest boats you’ll see on rivers will be there,” he said. “The Saturday circuit is very exciting; there’s lots of tight turns around the tops of the islands and there’s always some tight passing going on.
“If you can get up the river on Sunday and get to some of the bigger spots, you can see how some of these light aluminum boats can navigate through some really rough water at high speeds.”
According to Allen, as the name of his boat suggests, adrenaline and high speed is what Jet Boat racing is all about – along with the social experience.
“It’s absolutely the adrenaline, but also the people that come with the sport,” Allen said. “It kind of builds itself a little community and you see the same faces out at the races, so it’s good to see those guys a few times a year and build that camaraderie.”
Chad Burns, another Peace River native racing in the Unlimited Class, is also looking forward to a successful event. His boat, the U 339 Bad Habit, is unique in that it boasts a T58 General Electric turbine engine, which is capable of reaching 140 miles per hour.
“There’s only a handful of turbine boats in the world,” Burns explained.
For him, the most exciting component of the Peace River Race is the gruelling Smokey River course.
“It’s one of the more challenging courses that we’ll see in the Canadian circuit,” said the two-time Gold Cup winner. “There’s lots of rocks and big waves so it can be pretty intense.”
The weekend will kick-off on Friday, July 13 with a Show n’ Shine on River Rd. from 4-10 p.m., with the circuit races beginning on Saturday at 10 a.m. in the north end and 2 p.m. in the south end.
On Sunday, July 15, the infamous Peace River to Watino race is set for 10 a.m., while the Watino to Peace River race will begin at 2 p.m. The event will wrap up Sunday evening with an Awards Banquet at the Misery Mountain Ski Chalet at 5 p.m.