Hydroplanes keep family up to speed

Havre de Grace mom, 2 teens race this weekend


September 01, 2001|By Colby Ware | Colby Ware,SUN STAFF

For the Shanes of Havre de Grace, powerboat racing is truly a family affair.

Robin and Stuart Shane, parents of two and owners of the Shane Sheet Metal Co., have long been regulars on the inboard circuit.

Stuart retired from hydroplane competition four years ago. Robin has since taken the wheel. And their children, Kelly, 18, and Jimmy, 15, both have become racers.

Kelly races a two-seater Jersey Skiff, and Jimmy competes in the 1.5-liter stock class alongside his mother in twin vessels named The Hijacker and The Hijacker II.

This weekend, at the third annual Harford County Power Boat Challenge at the Bush River Yacht Club in Abingdon, mother and son will go at it again in 14-foot boats that can reach speeds of 100 mph.

"We've raced about 16 heats together this year, and she's probably leading 15 to 1," said Jimmy, a Havre de Grace High junior. Robin is in second place in national 1.5-liter standings; Jimmy is fifth.

Robin, a sheet-metal design and estimate specialist, began as a crew member for seven-time champion Stuart.

"Once I saw what it was, I was hooked," she said. "I learned woodworking, composite materials and boat building."

Noting that the children have learned, too, she said: "They could speak intelligently about engineering at very young ages."

Jokingly called the poster girl of the rescue team for her aggressive driving and consequent boat-flipping, Robin held first place until engine failure caused her to forfeit her last race at Kent Island.

The race at Bush River is one in a 51-event series for the Inboard Summer National Championship for the American Power Boat Association. Racing begins today at noon and continues tomorrow.

More than 80 boats are expected to compete in seven inboard racing classes ranging from Grand National Hydro to 5-liter Jersey Speed Skiffs on a 1 1/4 -mile course.

Powerboat racing, with mainly amateur competitors, is recognized as a family-oriented sport.

"We all work for a living, and this can get really expensive," said Al Grabinski Sr., ABPA's in-board racing chairman. "So we help one another, and everybody pitches in."

Robin is inboard commissioner for her county's power boat association, in addition to local and national duties. For this weekend's event, mother is race director and daughter is risk manager.

"Racing has probably brought Jimmy and me closer together, because we share a common goal," said Robin. "At home, we discuss other drivers, share strategies, but when we get out there, I forget he's my son."

"It's been a lot of fun," said Stuart. "Robin still has the edge, but Jimmy is coming."

Facts, figures

What: Harford County Power Boat Challenge

When: Today-tomorrow

Where: Bush River Yacht Club, Abingdon

Course: 1 1/4 miles

Admission: $10 adults; free for children 12 and under

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