Two years ago at Silver Lake near Eatonville, Travis Ulsh took a boat-racing class put on by the Seattle Outboard Association. He’s been a junior hydroplane racer ever since.
The sixth-grade student at Eatonville Middle School found his passion that day. He and his parents, Tyler and Kimberly Ulsh, started researching and eventually built a hydro that Travis has piloted in races against other
He finished third in a race in Everett earlier this year, and his summer
schedule includes the world junior championships in Moses Lake and a race Aug. 23-24 back at Silver Lake.
Last year, Ulsh placed third in the Kids Pro division season standings.
“When we started this, we didn’t know how much work it was going to be,” Tyler Ulsh said. He noted the family got some invaluable help from hydroplane builders Ed Karelson and Don Kelson, who are known for the fast boats they built from the 1950s to the ’70s.
Junior hydros competing in American Power Boat Association (:APBA) events reach speeds of 40 to 50 miles per hour. Rookie drivers take a written test and are required to stay in the back of the pack for their first
few races. They get pre-race coaching on rules from experienced drivers and race officials in drivers’ meetings.
For safety, drivers wear a lifejacket that is designed to keep water from splashing up into their helmets and keep them face up if they wind up in the water. Other standard apparel is Kevlar sleeves and pants that protect racers from cuts.