Ned Farinholt and Erged On II were back in form in the 14th annual Wye Island Marathon. His win and new record this year were clearly due to his wife Marilyn, who was aboard for the race and no doubt navigated the boat away from the hazards that damaged a motor last year. Ned was moved into the “Extreme Class” because of his large bank of lithium polymer batteries and the twin Torqeedo outboards. Despite the record speed, Ned barely edged last year’s overall winner, Jim Campbell, whose E-Canoe has improved its time each year. Both are threatening to do the course in less than two hours. Maybe the 2015 Marathon, the 15th annual, will see that mark put astern. Jay Bliss in his lightweight 15-foot runabout had no trouble finishing the course. His boat rounded out the top three: all three equipped with Torqeedo outboards.
First-time competitor John Todd and his wife did the course in a little jewel of a boat converted from a rowing boat that he built more than 30 years ago. The boat was not built for speed, but the beautiful workmanship gathered a crowd before the race. John made the rounds of the other boats and asked the kind of questions that suggest he is considering building something a bit faster. In the meantime, he clearly won the concours competition, filling a gap left by the absence of Tom Hesselink’s Budsins this year. Tom will be back next year, perhaps with a new Budsin or maybe with a 1930’s classic that he’s working on.
The two radical extreme class boats once again failed to finish, despite showing impressive early speed. The PropTalk ElectraShell II quickly ran off from the field after the start, but only made it as far as the mouth of the Wye before the smoke got out of its electric motor. Electrashell II started life as a four-oar competition shell. It is so narrow that outriggers are needed to keep it from rolling over. As the ElectraShell was loaded on the truck to go home, someone was overheard to say: “I told you that Etek wouldn’t run for two hours at 50 percent over its rated amperage.” A response was not forthcoming except for an impolite hand gesture, but it is now rumored that a new motor with fresh smoke, and more capacity, is in the works for the 15th Marathon.
Paul Kydd’s aluminum jon boat climbed out of the water on its hydrofoils and threatened to catch the ElectraShell for a while, but the shear pin carved a hollow in its plastic prop and ended its run. Paul has done the marathon as competitor or spectator in each of its 14 years. His hydrofoil boat, with a pancake electric motor driving through a Yamato outboard lower unit is a work in progress, but showing some signs of capability.
John Kocher needed a little tow at the end of the day in his 21-foot hand-built cruiser, and Bob Loca’s converted Hobie Cat needed a little more sunshine for his solar panels to keep up with the demands of his three trolling motors, but they had a good time and stories to tell at the Friday-night banquet. As always, resolutions for next year headed the topics of Friday-night conversation.
The weather cooperated for most of the day, but kicked up a bit in the late afternoon.
Once again, the Marathon was a wonderful trip around one of the nicest courses that could be selected for a race — or just a quiet trip on the water. And as always, the hospitality and the “home style” banquet fare at the Miles River YC were superlative.
It’s time to start planning to buy, borrow, or build an electric boat for the 15th annual Wye Island Marathon, October 2, 2015. It’s a great way to start an October weekend.
by Charlie Iliff