A race boat skips along the surface of Sproat Lake during one of the heats Saturday afternoon on the Alberni Valley Regatta course. Hundreds of spectators took in two days of racing.

Sproat Lake Regatta ‘best one we’ve had’: Van Bergen

Spectators lined the beaches and water at Sproat Lake for the third annual revival of the Sproat lake Regatta over the weekend.

The 2016 edition of the Alberni Valley Regatta is in the books, and organizers are celebrating its success.

“The show went really well. It’s the best one we’ve had,” organizer Joe Van Bergen said.

“The weather certainly cooperated; the sun was out Friday for our show n’ shine, it stayed out Saturday and the thunder and lightning hit last night (Sunday),” he said.

“There were fantastic crowds on the beaches and we had an excellent PA system out there.”

Van Bergen said he sold T-shirts on the raft out in the water most of the weekend, and boaters gathered near the raft were able to hear what was going on throughout the race course.

Mo Davidson of Surrey provided a couple of the weekend’s highlights.

Davidson showed off two of his boats at Friday’s show n’ shine in front of the Blue Marlin Inn, including his drag boat “The Animal”. Davidson’s other showpiece was the “Miss British Columbia”, an 18-foot long hydroplane dragster that was at one time the world’s fastest drag boat.

Back in the late 1960s, Miss British Columbia was famous on the west coast drag boat circuit—even competing at the old Sproat Lake regattas.

Davidson acquired the boat a couple of years ago from the side of a highway in Christmas Valley, Oregon, where the boat was rotting. Davidson had the boat restored and now tows it to various car and boat shows.

Saturday and Sunday, Davidson ran his 1977 Sanger drag boat dubbed “The Animal” for a few high-speed passes.

The 4,000- horsepower Keith Black top fuel motor allowed him to top out at about 200 miles per hour, according to Van Bergen.

Four F1 tunnel boats also put on a good show, as they have for all three of the regatta revival years. Mike McLellan of Kelowna brought two of his F1 racers to town, loaning one to Sproat Lake favourite Mike Nass after Nass had a fire the week before the regatta, McLellan said. Kyle Maskall of Chilliwack also raced his F1.

Last year the bottom ripped out of McLellan’s boat at the regatta, forcing him to switch to a different boat for the Seafair races in Seattle the first weekend in August. McLellan said this season he has been doing a lot of west-coast racing, and it seems that with the system changing for Seafair, he may be doing even more of that.

“There seems to be a basis for a west series coming together,” McLellan said at Friday’s show n’ shine. “It seems the planets are lining up right now. We’re focusing on our development guys.”

McLellan said he had no idea whether the Sproat Lake event would be part of a west coast racing series, but it “has that sort of feel to it…it seems like a no-brainer. There’s infrastructure here. It would be another class.”

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