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Perkins siblings keep Thunder title in family
For the third time in as many years, the Silverdale Thunder Regatta title went to a member of the Perkins family.
Two-time defending champion and current Unlimited Light point leader Kayleigh Perkins, who had won five consecutive races on the Unlimited Light Hydroplane Racing Association circuit entering the weekend, passed the crown to older brother Brian on Sunday.
Brian Perkins steered the UL-11 Power Punch/Roxy Radio 94.5 hydroplane to a first-place finish on Dyes Inlet to win his first race since 2006 and dethrone sister Kayleigh, who drove the UL-72 Foster Care/Vitamin Water boat to second.
“It was just an amazing race, it was a blast,” Brian Perkins said following a wire-to-wire victory that saw his supercharged UL-11 eclipse 98 mph. “It was fun to go out and race with Kayleigh, just that alone.”
A late entry to the fourth annual event, Brian Perkins drove the UL-11 in place of originally scheduled driver Mark Evans. The boat’s owner, Bob Schellhase, called Brian three days before the race to ask if he’d like to drive the UL-11.
“Who wouldn’t want to do that? This boat is incredible,” Perkins said.
The UL-11 was slowed throughout the weekend with engine problems. It ran out of fuel once, lost significant engine power multiple times and was towed back to the dock after sputtering out on the home stretch during a preliminary heat Sunday.
The pit crew, however, was able to resurrect the boat to racing form in time for the final.
“As soon as we left the dock, I could tell right away that the problems were solved,” Brian Perkins said. “I felt pretty confident that we were at least going to have a really good show.”
It was the Brian Perkins Show in the finals as the 24-year-old Kentlake High School grad zipped down the straightaways and navigated each turn with enough precision to hold off Kayleigh, 21, who has won nine races over the past three years.
At 2,900 pounds and 25 feet, 2 inches in length with a supercharged engine, the UL-11 was the longest, heaviest and fastest boat among the UL finalists, meaning Brian had to start and stay in the outside lane. But Kayleigh wasn’t able to close the gap from the inside.
“I wasn’t sure about Kayleigh, her boat is extremely fast,” Brian said.
It was the first time this season the siblings had raced against each other. Brian, who typically races on the unlimited circuit, will head to Evansville, Ind. next. Kayleigh, meanwhile, will continue the unlimited lights circuit next month in San Diego.
The family affair was more friendly than it was competitive, with the brother-sister duo walking off the dock together — all smiles — following the race.
“If I had to lose to somebody, I would choose him,” Kayleigh said.