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2nd Seafair Cup for Islander
Despite a crazy intense weekend on the shores of Lake Washington, watching his unlimited hydroplane boat and team win its second straight Seafair Cup, Mercer Island resident, Rob Graham, was back at work Monday.
But he had not had any sleep the night before.
“I could not have imagined this,” he said of the win and the team’s recent success.
Graham is the owner of the Graham Trucking located in South Seattle. There were 650 employees, clients and family members assembled in a hospitality tent at the hydro pits over the weekend. It was an amazing day, he said of Sunday.
Graham and his team have been involved in hydroplane racing since 1987, he said. In 1996, his firm sponsored a U-8 boat and from there, made the jump to the unlimited class.
“It is a monsterous difference between the unlimited class and other boats,” he explained. That is proably why his firm’s name and involvement in hydro racing remained under the radar until the last few years.
The boat, piloted by J. Michael Kelly last weekend, probably averaged 140 m.p.h. on the oval, Graham explained. But the boats can hit 200 m.p.h on the straightaway.
Graham said most people do not understand the level of difficulty involved in driving one of these machines.
“It looks fairly simple but it is not,” he said. “The people who drive these boats are talented; there are difficult, technical decisions made every second. There is a radio man talking in your ear. And if you want to win, you have to have a strategy.”
Graham said he has not driven the boat. He prefers paddleboarding around the Island or walking. He doesn’t need to drive it.
He is thrilled to be involved in such a sport and to win.
“I am beside myself — I am honored to have my name and my family’s name on this boat,” he said.