Drag boat racing makes a splash in Harrison Mills

There’s something to be said for the soft tranquility and peace of local rivers.

But members of a recently revived boating club prefer the roaring energy and edge-of-your-seat suspense of high-speed boat races.

The Fraser Valley Drag Boat Association (FVDBA) was brought back to life this year after a long hiatus and is taking Harrison Mills water sports to the next level with high-speed personal watercraft races at Harrison River RV and Campground.

Drag boat racing puts the excitement of speed and horsepower on local waterways, drawing in participants and spectators from around B.C. and even across the border.

The boats are typically single-person jet boats, but any small boat built for racing will get you in the club.

“It’s a club for people that love being on the water,” said club organizer Shauna Khunkhun. “It’s not just about drag boats, it can be any personal watercraft, including jet skis.”

Race participants spend the first part of FVDBA events proving their knowledge of safety practices and having their boat’s speed evaluated for pairing. The races are timed over a quarter of a mile, and winners receive trophies, but more importantly, bragging rights.

Safety is a priority for the club, according to Khunkhun. She said race participants have to wear helmets, life jackets and goggles.

Paramedics and divers are on scene for the races, she added.

FVDBC president Mike Blampied said not all the action happens on the water. Some participants make their boats from scratch.

“People buy old ones and they fix them up,” he said. “It’s a group effort, everyone’s helps each other, it doesn’t matter who’s racing against who, you’re always helping the other guy.”

“Everyone has a good time. It’s family fun.”

Blampied is more than qualified for his role as president. He’s been drag boat racing for years, and has even won the International Hot Boat Association championships.

He said the water in that stretch of the Harrison River is perfect for racing.

“The water is really nice, it’s calm in that area, its sort of a protective little bay. There’s sort of a natural burm from the fast moving current, sort of like a breakwater,” he said.

Blumpied believes a mudsill beneath that stretch of river makes it less likely the races will harm fish.

“There’s rarely fish in that area,” he said, adding that events would be cancelled in the event of spawning in that particular section.

A river spectacle

FVDBA invites the public to come out and watch the next event Sept. 8-9 at Harrison River RV and Campground.

From 10 a.m.- 4:30 p.m., the river will feature races, rooster tail competitions and even a vintage-style top-fuel exhibition boat.

 

Fraser Valley Drag Boat Association organizers say the sport is as much about community and atmosphere as it is about racing. (Submitted/Les Puchala)

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