Sports

Perkins goes back to back at Silverdale Thunder

Above, Kayleigh Perkins celebrates her second-straight win at Silverdale Thunder during an interview with ULHRA announcer John Lynch. Right top, Perkins’ UL-72 Miss Boat Electric flies across the waters of Dyes Inlet Sunday. Below right, Greg Hopp (right), Paul Becker (center) and Perkins come around turn four on the first lap neck and neck. Becker would flip his boat going into the final lap. - Jesse Beals/staff photos
Above, Kayleigh Perkins celebrates her second-straight win at Silverdale Thunder during an interview with ULHRA announcer John Lynch. Right top, Perkins’ UL-72 Miss Boat Electric flies across the waters of Dyes Inlet Sunday. Below right, Greg Hopp (right), Paul Becker (center) and Perkins come around turn four on the first lap neck and neck. Becker would flip his boat going into the final lap.
— image credit: Jesse Beals/staff photos

Some people have a lucky charm, like a penny, rabbit’s foot or a four-leaf clover.

Kayleigh Perkins has Dyes Inlet.

“I love Silverdale,” Perkins said. “It’s been my lucky race.”

The only female winner in the history of Unlimited Lights Hydroplane Racing Association’s UL class claimed her fourth victory last weekend at Silverdale Thunder, defending the title that earned Perkins her historic first victory.

But even beyond taking a second Thunder, Perkins said the win was great for bigger reasons.

“It means a lot just because we’re also running in the points championship,” she said. “But the fact this is where I got my first one means quite a lot today.”

Perkins’ UL-72 Miss Boat Electric held off Greg Hopp and the Graham Trucking GT-Happy Go Lucky boat for the second year to win Silverdale Thunder, earning 1,200 points and supplanting then-points standing leader Paul Becker for the lead. Perkins now leads with 7,072 total points, with Becker just 100 behind at 6,902. Hopp is third with 5,640. No other driver has even topped 4,000.

With the points race so close, Perkins said the race was more exciting than ever.

“It always makes it more exciting for everybody,” she said. “Every heat counts.” While Ryan Mallow took an official second at last year’s Silverdale Thunder, Hopp was leading until he lost a propeller blade, locking up the first win for a close-behind Perkins.

This year, leading wire to wire, Perkins’ UL-72 Miss Boat Electric dominated the final in defeating Hopp by two roostertail lengths.

Mike Sadlon in the UL-89 Lake Trash Apparel and Lake Trash.com finished in third, while Michael Flaherty in the UL-11 ROXY Radio 94.5–Power Punch Oil Supplements failed to finish and Wil Muncey, in the UL-00 Trafficade presented by Warning Power.com, was unable to start.

For part of the weekend, racing was no certainty. In fact, due to choppy waters, Saturday’s racing was called off altogether.

“I was kind of worried,” Perkins said. “I was worried we wouldn’t race at all. But Sunday was just beautiful.”

While the weather decided to oblige, it was still less than smooth sailing for some.

Becker, in the UL-14 Miss Critical Logic, was leading going into lap two and as he approached the first turn with Perkins to his inside and Hopp to his right.

“He was really trying to get that lead on me,” Perkins said. “He just drove it too hard.”

On that turn, Becker’s boat caught a wind gust and blew over while going close to 150 mph, landing right-side up.

“We were right next to each other,” Perkins said. “I knew it was bad right when it happened.”

Becker immediately radioed his crew, letting them know he was alright, but a medical exam subsequently revealed both a fractured ankle and vertebrae.

With only Port Angeles’ Straight Thunder left on Oct. 4-5, it’s unknown whether Becker will be able to return and challenge Perkins for the points crown.

If he is unable to go, Perkins would be a virtual lock on the driver point title, another chance for a repeat performance.

Still, Perkins said she’s just another driver. She said very few are still surprised by her accomplishments as a female racer.

“Yes, but not too much anymore,” she said. “Everyone thinks of me as just another racer.”

Even if Becker is unable to race, Perkins still has reason to go all out.

Her boat, the Miss Boat Electric, is second in the boat point standings with 7,982. Hopp’s UL-15 Graham Trucking GT-Happy Go Lucky, also driven by his dad and fellow racing vet Jerry Hopp, leads with 8,265 points. Becker’s Miss Critical Logic is third in that points race with 7,842.

With PA being the last tour stop for the season, Perkins said her team will look at little things to improve prior to the race.

“Probably,” she said with a hint of slyness in her voice. “But if I did, I wouldn’t tell you. Then my competitors could read it.”

Really, Perkins said in all seriousness it all comes down to the start.

“It’s just perfecting our starts more,” she said. “At times, I’m amazed at how lucky I can get.”

While there’s a lot more racing before the end of the season, Perkins hopes the Silverdale event will continue to grow. After all, she for one certainly wouldn’t mind a three-peat.

“I just hope we’re still invited back next year,” Perkins said. “Just get bigger and bigger as the years go on. Maybe I can get it three times in a row.”

The Unlimited Lights boats weren’t the only ones racing at Silverdale Thunder Sunday.

Steve Clark, in the E-222 Power Punch-Thunderstruck, won the 8-cylinder Lighter Than Light series race, earning him 1,100 points to Kevin Eacret’s (E-36 Baker Equipment Blockhead Machine) 700. Belfair resident Bud McKay and his E-10 GEICO presents Namron Racing Team took fourth, adding 450 points to his season total. McKay still owns a commanding lead in the series with 3,750 points to Eacret’s 1,900.

In 4-cylinder Lighter than Lights action, Austin Eacret, in the S-36 The Trainer, won, adding 925 points to his season total. The combination of driver’s Bianca Bononcini and Joseph Perkins in the Y-28 Perkins Glass finished second overall with 800 points. The Y-28 boat now leads the 4-cylinder standings with 3,6000 points this season.

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