Sunday, February 13, 2011

Lake Havasu City - The Steppes - The Model Boat Races

 Looking east up into the Steppes area.
 Well, here we are south of Lake Havasu City, right off highway 95 at milemarker 165-6 at a place called The Steppes. A developer spent millions of $$ excavating this area and leveling off steppes to have a housing community but was shut down due to toxic chemicals.  Now it belongs to the State of AZ and is a popular place to boondock.
 Looking northeast
 Looking West towards the Colorado River.  On the other side of the river is California.

We arrived here on Wednesday with one other Boomer couple who was with us at Parker, Ann and Mick.  Mostly hung around, did a couple of walks, enjoyed the area.  Friday went into town and got groceries.  Met Bill and Bonnie at happy hour - they are heavily into model airplanes but used to race model boats and told us about the races this weekend.

Saturday we ran into town and watched the model boat races.  They are about 1-1/2 to 2 feet long and are run by two-cycle gas, water-cooled string trimmer motors.  They run around 65-70 mpr and run a 5 lap oval course about 1/8-1/10 mile in length.  Five boats race at a time and they are certainly competitive.  There are various classes which race against each other - outriggers, powerboats, v-hull, and thunderboats.  Many times two or three of the boats quit running during the race or hit one of the buoy markers and flip out, or lose communication with their radio control and go wild down the river.  They are exciting races and really fun to watch.  Besides it's a gorgeous river and great to be outside in the sun and cool/warm air. 

The setting - looking south along the walking path past the Lake Havasu Resort towards the racing area and pits.

Looking south from the launch area.  Power boats lined up to watch.

We sat along the wall here with these people to watch.  The launch area was right below us under a 4' cement wall with about 2-1/2' of sand beach for the pit crew to launch.  There were two people for each boat, one had the controls in the "driving area" near the announcer stand and the other crew member would pull the starter rope at the"boaters - start your engines" command.  Then they would check with the controller to be sure they were ready and toss the boat out into the river.  They would have 90 seconds to get this done, get their boats warmed up and then a 30 second warning would sound for them to gather up and the countdown would start.  Those who jumped the starting line or went inside a buoy would automatically get a lap penalty.

During the down time between races, two retrieve boats would go out and pick up the dead in the water boats and also chase away the mallards who are prolific.  Sometimes the next race would have to be delayed while a model boat (or the larger boats) herded the ducks to safety.

Between races, they would allow boats wanting to use the channel to go up and down the river to proceed west of the race area.  There were party barges, cruisers, kayaks, canoes and even these paddle surfers???

All's quiet between races and Jerry's right on top of the action.
 Here's a closeup of just one kind of model boat.  The men below are getting ready to start their boats which are down on the sand on their stand.  The two boats on top of the wall are ready in place for the next race.
We really enjoyed the races.  They ended at 4 PM due to glare on the river.  Stopped at the street fest (vendor kiosks down the street) for a quick peek.  Ran into Betty and Duane and stopped for an ice cream cone with them.  Got back home in time for the second half of happy hour.  Added several new couples today and more are coming in the next few days.  Life is great!  Wish you were here!

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