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Thursday, October 17, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Jet boat races to roar on Snake River this weekend

The Red Bird Racing team tackles the Salmon River rapids during the annual jet-boat races near Riggins in April 2007. The boat is piloted by Mike Egbers of Mount Vernon, Wash., and Eric Hamburg of Shasta Lake, Calif. 
 (Red Bird Racing)
The Red Bird Racing team tackles the Salmon River rapids during the annual jet-boat races near Riggins in April 2007. The boat is piloted by Mike Egbers of Mount Vernon, Wash., and Eric Hamburg of Shasta Lake, Calif. (Red Bird Racing)

RIVER RUNNING -- The jet boats are coming!

Boating enthusiasts are being advised that ON SHORE is going to be the safest place along the Snake River in the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. this weekend.

Some of the fastest boats in the world will be traveling up and down the Snake River this weekend as jet boat races return to the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley.

Participants are expected to reach speeds up to 130 mph as they race from Hells Gate State Park to Bear Bar in Hells Canyon.

Read on for details in a report from Eric Barker of the Lewiston Tribune.

"It’s the most exciting racing there is," said Marlene Mignerey of Riggins. "It’s not boring like a circle race. It’s very, very exciting."

Mignerey and her husband, Frank, have been watching and photographing jet boat races for 25 years, often in the unpredictable weather conditions of spring. She said the dog days of August should be great for spectators.

"We have warm, beautiful weather in Lewiston," she said.

That same warm weather will attract other river users, and race organizers are doing their best to inform people the safest place to be between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. each day will be on the banks.

"We would really appreciate if all users, for the safety of themselves and the racers, pull over and enjoy the race from a safe location on the bank," said Ryan Rogers of Lewiston.

Rogers, one of the organizers, also plans to race. In an effort to reduce conflicts of other users, he decided to move up the start of the second leg of the race. On both days, the race will start at 10 a.m. The boats will leave from Hells Gate in two-minute intervals and race to Bear Bar, about 30 miles upriver and just short of Hells Canyon National Recreation Area.

Rogers said the fastest boats, with 1,200- to 1,600-horsepower engines, will take about 17 minutes to reach Bear Bar. The slower boats will take about 30 minutes. Once there, boat pilots and their navigators will make adjustments and be ready to begin the return trip at 12:30 p.m., a half-hour earlier than originally planned.

"They are not really happy with me," Rogers said of the other racers.

"But we’re trying to have the least amount of impact (on other river

users) as possible."

Race organizers will also man 20 safety boats, each equipped with emergency responders and ham radio operators to make sure the course is safe.

Of primary concern is making sure rafters coming out of the lower Salmon River and heading toward Heller Bar in the middle of the course are aware of the race. Mark Richardson, president of Northwest River Runners, the group putting on the race, said group members have posted signs at traditional launching points on the lower Salmon River and plan to contact floaters camping along the river the night before each race.

"We will be warning people who have the likelihood of entering our race course while the boats are there," Richardson said.

He said those who are pressed for time will be offered tows so they can reach Heller Bar before the start of the race or shortly after it wraps up. He hopes rafters and other users will be willing to pull over and watch the race.

"We don’t want anyone to feel inconvenienced. We want everyone to enjoy it as an extra kick on their trip," he said.

The race weekend kicks off Friday night with a boat show at the Clearwater River Casino from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Rogers said the races will wrap up by about 2 p.m. each day.




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Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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