It is with a heavy heart that the ERCU Board of Directors today announces that the 2020 racing season, which had just gotten underway, has been suspended through August.
"While the restrictions and guidelines from the Governor made it pretty clear we just can't go racing, it is always a hard decision to stop the passion of our members in its tracks by canceling or suspending racing," said ERCU Board Chair Nelson Holmberg. "No one WANTS to suspend racing - especially after just getting the season started with two great races - but it clearly is the smart thing to do."
Just days after the successful completion of the Diamond Cup and the Champion Spark Plug Regatta at Woodland Creek Community Park in Lacey, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee ordered that all phase 3 counties (which includes Thurston and Lewis, where we have race sites), are limited to outdoor gatherings of no more than 10. The limit had previously been 50. The governor also ordered that there are to be no indoor or outdoor "live performances" until further notice. This order is even despite the dramatic efforts made by our club and others like us to wear masks, even outdoors, physically distance and conduct proper hand hygiene all weekend long.
"Those who attended the Diamond Cup and Champion Spark Plug Regatta last weekend were awesome in their response and adherence to the health and safety guidelines put in place by the club and by the state," Holmberg said. "And, coincidentally, we also had some really great racing and a lot of fun."
As the board weighed this most recent information, it seemed like there was no choice but to suspend the season. By consensus of the board, effective immediately, the 2020 ERCU season has been suspended through August 2020. The board will meet in August to reassess the situation and make a decision about racing in September and into the fall. It is likely - though no formal decision has yet been made - that the races that will be missed in July and August will not be rescheduled.
"Jerry has done such a great job as race coordinator this year," Holmberg said. "He's probably built, start-to-finish, five different season schedules for us this year, and he's been diligent in trying everything to make a racing season possible for us. To ask him to keep doing that during the ever-changing pandemic simply isn't fair."
Thank you for your patience and your understanding.
Ron Daum claims modern victory; first win in 40-plus years of RC racing
LACEY, Wash. - When Ron Daum woke up on Sunday morning, he probably never would have imagined how his day would evolve.
It ended on a very high (and wet) note.
Normally in boat racing, the driver who wins his first race gets tossed in the lake by his competitors. Daum took care of that on his own, when he accidentally fell out of the chase boat while picking up his 1957 Miss US which failed to finish heat 3A. He was OK. That's why we wear a life jacket when we go out in the boat. Even better, though, the pond is only about 4 feet deep, so he was able to walk back ashore pulling the chase boat behind him.
"I leaned over to pick up the US which was foll of water, Dunny's little boat healed over and water started to come over the rail." Daum said. "I straightened up to try and recover but my rear slid to the rail and all was lost. I bailed to save Dunny's boat. As my thoughts went to the old Boy Scout capsized boat drill,my feet hit the bottom. It was really mucky. Fortunately, I had my boots on so I just walked all to shore."
The Champion Spark Plug Regatta was the second of two races in one weekend. It drew a smaller crowd, but put us one race closer to being caught up on the events we missed due to the COVID crisis. Originally scheduled to have run back in May, this year's race was a points race, with 10 boats in attendance.
And again, the new classic class turned out to be a success. After 18 boats (6 vintage, 6 classic, 6 modern) turned out for the Diamond Cup on Saturday, 3 vintage, 4 classic and 3 modern were at the Sunday race.
As a points race, consistency and finishing heats was more important than simply winning the final. In the modern class, Daum did that, where Nelson Holmberg and Len Taylor didn't. Taylor, driving the 2013 Graham Trucking owned by Jim Bakke, started the mill for the fourth flight, only to see the drive dog slip and not be able to start. This left the final to Nelson Holmberg's 2018 Oberto Beef Jerky and Daum's 2009 Grandview on the Lake. Consistency came into play when Nellie blew over the Oberto at start-finish just after the end of lap one. Chief referee Jerry Dunlap told Ron to run three clean laps and bring it in and he'd be the winner. That was done, and the smile on Ron's face was huge.
"After always being a bridesmaid, finally the bride," the victor said afterward.
The classic class came down to a tie, which went to the rulebook to break. Both Dunlap and Holmberg finished the four heats with 1,169 points. The ERCU rules have always said that ties are broken by accumulated season points. In this case, that was just Saturday's race, and Nellie had scored 100 more points in classic the day before than Dunny did, so the 1987 Oh Boy! Oberto was declared the winner. Second place went to Jerry Dunlap's 1985 Boat, third to Bill Mowatt with the 1986 Miss Houston and fourth to Brandon Sano with the 1974 Weisfields Jewelers.
Dunlap also had an almost perfect day in vintage, driving Ben Keller's 1957 Hawaii Kai III. As a result, 1,300 points was enough to win the 2020 Champion Spark Plug Regatta vintage championship. Holmberg's 1975 Oh Boy! Oberto was second, and Daum's 1957 Miss US was third.
Finally, to round out the day - and the weekend - Nellie's 1975 Oh Boy! Oberto claimed the Vintage Triple Crown event, posting a fastest time of 19.34 seconds in the time trials, and winning the heat after Dunny grabbed defeat from the jaws of victory. The Hawaii Kai III was the second fastest in time trials (19.79) and Daum's 1957 Miss US was third fastest, just .06 behind the Kai.
For the second straight day, a lot of fun was had by all, and the day was filled with great racing.
Bordon, Holmberg take home Diamond Cup titles
When we were finally able to get back to the beach and have the first ERCU race of the season, the day could not have been better.
So much fun. No controversy. No bad accidents. No jumped starts. A lot of great racing.
It's exactly what we all waited for. And when all of the roostertails settled, it was Nelson Holmberg who took home the Diamond Cup trophies for the vintage and modern classes and Gerry Bordon who added his name (again) to the record book with the first-ever classic division win in the history of ERCU.
Holmberg had good fortune in the vintage final, as two boats were out after a mixup in the first turn just after the start. No significant damage was done to either boat, but it quickly cut the field in half. The 1975 Oberto had a good enough start that it was fortunate to be in a position to take the lead down the backstretch and hold on to it despite strong challenges from Ron Daum's 1957 Miss U.S.
Bordon clearly had the fastest classic boat all day, in the form of his 1974 Miss U.S. And he proved it in the final. He also avenged the only second place finish of the day by beating the 1987 Oh Boy! Oberto, which was able to hold off the U.S. in classic heat 1A. Holmberg was second in the final, followed by Bill Mowatt driving the Miss Houston and Jerry Dunlap in his 1986 Boat.
Despite a wind that swept across Woodland Creek Park and onto Long's Pond most of the day, Holmberg piloted the 2018 Oberto to a perfect day, winning all three preliminary heats and the modern final. Looks like he's finally got that thing figured out, after a rough year in 2019. It's the second straight year Nellie has won the Diamond Cup. Ron Daum had an awesome day with the 2009 Grandview on the Lake scoring two firsts and two seconds, including the runner up spot in the modern final. Mick Shutt, driving Jim Bakke's 2013 Graham Trucking took third, and Mick enjoyed a great day with the boat scoring 1050 points.
Saturday's race also kicked off the new ERCU Triple Crown Challenge. The first of three modern events was held with the Diamond Cup. Paul Dunlap drove the 2015 Dalton Industries to the fastest time in time trials, but struggles through the day led to a withdrawal for the Dalton team. Additionally, Len Taylor 2012 Spirit of Qatar, which was the second-fastest in time trials, missed the Triple Crown heat due to technical difficulties that forced withdrawal from the race. So it came down to Holmberg driving the 2013 Graham Trucking and Daum with the Turbinator. While the two-boat heat was filled with good racing, it ended on an ironic twist when both boats blew over, Daum's in the back stretch, and Nellie's seconds later while entering the front stretch. None of the boats finished, so Paul Dunlap was given 100 points for his time trial finish and the early lead in the three race modern series.
The next race on the 2020 ERCU Championship Series is Sunday, July 12, also at Woodland Creek Park
Many thanks to the fine folks at the City of Lacey - and especially our own Jerry Dunlap who never gave up on getting a season in this year - we're going racing this weekend!
With Thurston County in Phase 3 of the Safe Start protocol, the City of Lacey today confirmed that we not only can run our Diamond Cup race this Saturday (July 11), as originally scheduled, but we have also been approved to run the Champion Spark Plug Regatta the next day on Sunday, July 12.
Open water is expected by 9 a.m., followed by a mandatory drivers meeting at 10 a.m. If you still haven't yet had your boats inspected for the 2020 season, please be sure to arrive early to get that done.
We also will run the first leg of the modern Triple Crown on Saturday. The first leg of the vintage Triple Crown will be on Sunday. More details about the new Triple Crown Series can be found by clicking here.
The club has adopted Safe Start policies that you can read by clicking below. We will also review this at the drivers meeting, but please be aware and prepared.
Please plan to bring (and wear) your mask. They will be required whenever physical distancing cannot be maintained (i.e. while in the driving area spotters/drivers, etc.). The club will have limited sanitation materials (hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes, Lysol, paper towels, as well as some disposable masks, in case someone forgets theirs. Masks will not be required when physical distancing can be maintained.
Now...go get ready. Let's go racing