DEPUE — The weather played a major factor during the 30th anniversary of the U.S. National Championship boat races Sunday at Lake DePue as high winds caused a three-hour delay and forced three of the four races to run only two heats in the 250cc Hydro, 350cc Runabout and 1100cc Hydro.
Although the lengthy break could have shook many drivers Amy Nydahl of Bristol, Wis., persevered through the layoff and captured victories in two separate 1100cc features.
Nydahl won the 1100 Hydro as a solo driver and then teamed up with partner Derek Gesler of Belle Plaine, Minn., to take first place in the 1100cc Runabout.
Taking first place in the remaining events were Kurtis Nydahl of Bristol, Wis., in the 250cc Hydro feature, David Jones of North Windham, Conn., in the 125cc Hydro and Brian Payn of Center Point, Iowa, in the 350cc Runabout.
Even though this event attracts participants from 22 states, boat racing has become a local fixture supported by and within the community as a whole generation has grown up in the DePue area over the last 30 years with racing front and center from an early age.
While local racers Jake Quesse of DePue, placed sixth and Steve Niesen of Ladd placed seventh in the 125cc Hydro while Paul Bosnich III of Ladd placed in the 350cc Runabout and didn’t make podium appearances, each got the experience the thrill of plying their trade in front of friends and family.
“Racing is just a part of everyone’s life here especially when you live in DePue, you grow up with,” said Quesse. “I think it’s something everyone in DePue has wanted to be a part of it at some point in their life and I’m just grateful I have a chance to be a part of it and there’s not a better feeling in the world if you ask me.”
DePue Men’s Club President Steve Solorio credits the community and surrounding communities with coming together to put on the races each year.
“It’s not just the men’s club that’s here helping out if you look around a lot of the people from the community and surrounding towns are volunteering and helping us out to put this on. If we didn’t have these volunteers we wouldn’t be able to put this event on,” Solorio said. “They help us with concessions, picking up trash, in the foot stands, beer garden and it’s just a community event and everybody pitches in and helps out.”
Although Quesse takes every race seriously and every race is special, nothing compares to feeling he gets when he competes with so many supporters.
“That’s got to be the most amazing feeling in the world and I tell everybody that,” Quesse said. “You can’t just go to many boat races and just look up while your milling around waiting for the race to start and everyone is waving and cheering for you the whole time, everybody knows you and it’s just an awesome feeling and thing to be a part of.”
Notes: More than $50,000 in prize money was up for grabs over the weekend, making it the richest payout for a boat-racing tournament of this type in the world.
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