A Seaway Marine F1 boat comes out of a turn during race course testing on Lake Washington in May. The Seaway team will bring three boats for the debut of Formula 1 racing at Seafair August 3 - 5. CLICK THE IMAGE ABOVE TO SEE MORE
SLIDESHOW: West Seattle based boats will race at Seafair for the first time
Greg Jacobsen is carrying on a family racing tradition
Seaway Marine on Harbor Avenue is a place many people drive by on the way to Alki Beach but it is where owner Greg Jacobsen is readying a series of boats that will for the first time, take part in some likely thrilling boat racing during Seafair August 3 -5.
Jacobsen is carrying on a family tradition, established by his father Bob Jacobsen by developing and racing Formula 1 or F1 race boats and taking part in the F1-PROP tour. Drivers will compete in the Graham Trucking Cup. These sleek craft differ from unlimited hydroplanes in that they can turn left and right (unlimited boats can only turn left) and they race much closer to shore, as close as 75 feet. These boats are also referred to as tunnel boats since they have a 2 primary points of contact with the water and a central tunnel in their hull. They race far more boats than unlimiteds do with 12 set to compete during Seafair. Boats first qualify for lane positions then race, in a series of heats to determine the winner.
Tunnel hull racing began in the 1960's on the European Union of International Motorboats circuit. The first tunnel hull boat came to the U.S. in 1964. Currently, the F1-PROP tour includes seven cities including Bay City, Michigan on June 24 where Jacobsen and his team will compete.
Central to the team's potential success is their multiple national champion driver Tim Seebold. His bio describes him as, "the winningest active driver in the premier North American Champ Boat Series." Seebold has finished in the top three in year end points ten times in the past 12 years.
To drive one well takes a lot of talent, "said Jacobsen, "because it's all feel and there's so much adjustability to how you fly the boat. The other thing that's different about boat racing is, our track changes every lap. Your going to get a a a different wave or your on the straightaway and you get a roller. You don't have a lot of time to think about it so you're on the buttons the whole time." He was referring to the way the boat is trimmed or controlled by buttons that affect how it performs, forcing the boat down or letting it fly farther off the water.
F1 boats include a 375-horsepower Mercury or Johnson engine that propels them to speeds of up to 140 miles per hour. The boats are 17 feet long and weight approx. 1,150 pounds with a driver.
You might expect that boats racing at those speeds that close to shore would be dangerous for spectators but Jacobsen said, "the way these boats work is that if there were a problem they would shut down and come to a stop within 30 feet."
Jacobsen and his team will be bringing three boats to Seafair including one from Abu Dabhi that they race on behalf of. The team brings multiple engines with varying sizes and power curves Jacobsen explained.
"The Seafair fans have been asking for new types of entertainment on Seafair Weekend, and the ability of the F1 PROP boats to race closer to the shoreline and spectators on a circuitous course is a winning combination for this year's event," said Beth Knox, President & CEO of Seafair.
About Seaway Marine
Seaway Marine as a company normally supplies the boating industry with parts primarily to dealers but they maintain a healthy business selling to individuals too and are most often the place people across the nation turn when they are seeking a hard to find part. Jacobsen said, "If we don't have a part there's a good chance we will actually make it." He explained that they go so far as to create a mold or literally manufacture a part if necessary." They have a national reputation and deal with dealers everywhere doing a high volume."Today we shipped 600 packages," Jacobsen said.
Next door is Jacobsen's Marine, which was formerly in Ballard. When Greg's father passed away in 2007, due to probate taxes, they were forced to sell the land. As the economy dipped in 2008 Jacobsen downsized and moved that operation next door to Seaway on Harbor Avenue. They are the northwest dealer for Grady White Boats and perform a lot of marine service on brands like Evinrude, Johnson, Yamaha, Volvo Penta, OMC and Mercruiser.
F1 PROP Tour Links
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