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Penalties spoil Oh Boy! Oberto’s weekend in Seafair hydro races

Seattle Times Photo

By Kristen Gowdy

Seattle Times staff reporter

After it posted the top qualifying time Friday, Oh Boy! Oberto owner Erick Ellstrom said there were a “million things” that could go wrong before a U-16 win in the Albert Lee Appliance Cup. It was almost as if he was foreshadowing the weekend.

In an unprecedented turn of events, the U-16, driven by Jean Theoret, accumulated three one-minute penalties in its three heat races, thus eliminating its shot at a championship.

The final penalty, in Sunday morning’s opening race of the third and final heat, came after Theoret encroached on the U-5 Graham Trucking’s lane. The U-5, driven by J. Michael Kelly, sustained damage after getting caught in Theoret’s rooster tail.

Normally, an encroachment violation merits a lesser penalty, but because Theoret had been called for another encroachment last weekend in Tri-Cities, his penalty was elevated to a Class-III violation, earning him the time punishment.

The U-21 Miss Albert Lee Appliance boat, driven by Brian Perkins, took advantage of Theoret’s penalty and got its first heat win of 2016.

“This heat was do or die for us,” Perkins, whose win secured a spot in the finals, said. “This is home for our guys, the owners are local guys, it’s important for us to do well and we want to represent them well.”

Perkins finished third in the final.

Theoret’s Oh Boy! Oberto was the trailer boat in the final, which involves starting in the outermost lane behind all of the other drivers. The trailer boat generally does not enter a race with a shot of winning, but completing the race earns the driver National High Points.

• Penalties were accrued in all six heat races this weekend.

On Sunday, the U-7 Graham Trucking and the U-21 boat each received a one-minute penalty for jumping the gun in the first race of the second heat. The U-16 boat accrued the same penalty in the second race of the heat.

In the third and final heat, the U-99.9 Miss Rock boat was disqualified for a violation in the DMZ zone before the first race in the second heat. In the second race of the heat, the U-16 boat received a $250 fine and a one-minute penalty for a Class III encroachment.

• After receiving a one-minute penalty in the first heat Saturday, U-1 driver Jimmy Shane responded with a successful day two, winning both of his heat races before finishing second in the final in the HomeStreet Bank boat.

• In the Seafair Cup Grand Prix finals, Jerry Hopp and the GP-15 took home the title just a day after flipping his boat in one of the heat races. A Snohomish resident, Hopp has been racing since 1975.

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