SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — Seeing powerboats pushing it to the limit, after being cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic, The Bayfair is back for its 57th year on Mission Bay.
"There's not many places you can go see boats running over 200 mph on the water,” said hydroplane pilot Jimmy Shane.
Shane is racing the U-1 Miss HomeStreet Bank Unlimited Hydroplane and is also a Blue Origin rocket builder in Washington. This weekend is the finale for the H1 Unlimited Hydroplane racing season, where everyone competes to win the Bayfair Cup.
"Unlimited Hydroplane racing is a very unique sport, it is a spectacle. The boats are 7,000 pounds, they are 32-feet long. We are literally called hydroplanes because we are flying on a bubble, like a cushion of air, and we are controlling the boat more like an airplane than a boat,” Shane said.
Outside of the boat races, there is still more to see with festivities taking place on the three islands, Vacation Island, Crown Point and Fiesta Island.
"We have what is called the Grand Prix America, which are the really piston boats, but I can assure you that people in the hills will hear up there,” said Gregg Mansfield, spokesman for the San Diego Bayfair board of governors.
A motorcycle and car show will take place. Tickets start at $25.
"We are one of the few times where people can actually park in RV on the bay and enjoy it. This event is just a giant party, family reunion, and just people are here to have fun,” Mansfield said.
On Friday, there were testing and qualifying races, while the big match ups start on Saturday with four boats in each heat. Mansfield said one of the race boats caught on fire while on the course, but the driver appears to be fine.
Diana Swain and her family came from Casa Grande Arizona to watch their grandson David compete.
"We have our RV, and it is just fun to watch and see. The different things that go on, not only the races but it is just fun,” Swain said.
Shane has been racing since he was 8 years old and learned from his father and is teaching his sons.
"The higher you fly it off the water, the faster you go. Our team is about 14 crew members, which are all volunteers, and they come in from all over the country and we get together on the weekends and we race the world’s fastest boats,” Shane said.
More powerboat races will kick off Saturday at 8 a.m. for the 57th San Diego Bayfair, then at noon the larger races will start culminating with the championship races on Sunday.
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