I heard that there was a big party out at Folsom Lake. Since the lake is my second home for hiking, running and biking, I figured I would catch some of the HI Hydroplane boat races at the Big Wake Weekend. I was curious to see how the park would handle the crowds, boats and assorted entertainment.
Hydroplane races tickets on-line only
The $39 single day pass seemed reasonable until I was hit with a $10 convenience fee. That seemed kind of steep for standing on hot asphalt to watch high powered boats a 1/4 mile away on the lake. My consternation over the price was further inflamed when a typo on my email address meant I couldn’t print the ticket- my fault not the websites. But a good chunk of my anxiety was relieved when I visited the ticket tent and was given my wrist band with little further grief.
No serious traffic congestion in Granite Bay
That type of good customer service and organization typified how the Big Wake Weekend was operated. Many of us that live in Granite Bay were bracing for a nightmare of traffic congestion that never materialized. This might have on account of the well organized parking shuttle lots at Cavitt Junior High School and Sierra College. Plus, it didn’t seem as if they got the community turn out of 30,000 people like they anticipated out at the lake.
Lots of good shoreline viewing
While the shoreline from Granite Beach south to the boat launch parking lots were lined with spectators, the large expanse of area set aside for the beer garden seemed particularly empty. The website noted that all the Log Boom anchorage for boats was sold out. Those folks didn’t have easy access to the main stage, vendor area or beer garden.
Well organized Big Wake Weekend of events
All the various exhibitions and races were run on schedule with only modest and understandable delays due to finicky racing motors. The crowds enjoyed the wake board, jet pack and hover craft demonstrations as well. The vendor area was well organized with assorted businesses from beef jerky, motorcycles, new cars and cigars.
How close can I get?
The main obstacle that virtually all boat races face is the distance between the spectators and the water craft. You just can’t get up close and personable with boat racing like you can with automobile or horse racing. I tried to position myself on the northern turn of the race course only to be told the area was off limits. That made sense since a hydroplane boat traveling at 200 mph could fail to negotiate the curve and continue straight into the spectators.
Excellent pubic address system
Except for some of the trees at the lake’s edge, there were plenty of good shoreline viewing areas available. The organizers ensured that even spectators a half mile from the finish on the shore could hear the announcers with an extensive public address system and speakers. This meant a family or group of friends could pitch a shade tent by the water and spend the whole day relaxing in the water, watching the races or meandering throughout the vendor area.
See you next year Hydroplanes?
Even though the admission price was a little high for the casual observer and family wanting to spend a day at the lake watching the races, it was a well organized and fun event. I hope they were able to generate enough ticket sales to return next year. Race results.