Originally posted by kdfwr911
My thoughts and prayers go out to the Sellers family and all of his friends.
An accident like this could happen on any given weekend. There are boats capable of these speeds on the lake most every weekend of the summer. This accident was caused by human error, but not on the spectators part.
Having started virtually every poker run since the begining, I have a somewhat limited perspective of the spectator situation at the start. I have had significant concerns about spectator actions prior to and during the start in years past, and still do to some degree. But I have actually seen a lot of improvement in the situation in recent years.....at least in the area around the starting point.....which is the area my view has been limited to. Once they go around the bend at Bugwood, I can't see the spectator crowd any more and rely on my co-workers to be my eyes in those areas that I can't see. We always have patrol boats stationed along the length of the course for the first couple of miles trying to keep a clear path for them to get started. A flight does NOT start until I have the go ahead from my co-workers that we have a clear path. But once the green light is given and a flight takes off, it's up to the spectators along the course to keep themselves out of the way. I can't stop the flight once it takes off, and a handful of officers can't keep the crowd pushed back along a hundred miles of course. So spectators have to be responsible enough to keep themselves out of harms way, and the participants have to be driving far enough into the future to be able to avoid situations that may develope after their flight has been started. For safety's sake speed limits on our highways are reduced in congested areas inside cities. Accordingly, poker run participants must also reduce their speed for safety's sake while traveling through congested areas of the lake. It is not and never will be a closed course.
Someone commented that the poker runners shouldn't be asked to make the turn at Difficulty Creek that sharp at those speeds.....meaning the spectator crowds shouldn't force a sharper turn than can be safely navigated at those speeds. I strongly disagree with that evaluation. This is a poker run on an open course, not a race on a closed course. In my opinion, the poker run participants shouldn't ask their machines to make turns at speeds that require more room than the conditions allow. In other words, don't blame it on the crowd that has gathered to watch the event. Blame it on the drivers who try to exceed the limits that the conditions dictate at any given time or location. Conditions dictate the speed, not vice versa. Speed demands that the driver of the machine drive it in both the space that he currently occupies, as well as the space that he is going to occupy in the future. How far into the future he must drive is directly related to the speed at which he is moving. The faster you drive, the farther into the future you must be driving, while at the same time also being cognizant of the immediate future. In other words they must fight the natural human tendency to let tunnel vision take over. And let me say here that I've seen video of the accident from three different angles and I don't believe the tightness of the turn was responsible for what happened. It was speed vs water conditions. Spectators had nothing to do with it except for helping to create rougher water conditions for the participants to deal with. But the weather conditions and the passing of a front prior to the event also contributed to the water conditions Saturday morning. However the participants must drive accordingly with the environmental conditions they are presented with. They aren't going to get glass to run on and they have a responsibility to make adjustments based on the current conditions as they actually exist at that time. Just because a boat is capable of 150 mph, doesn't mean the driver is going to be able to safely run 150 mph on a course at any given time. There is a limit to what can be done safely and the closer you try to push it to those limits, the narrower the margin you have for error. Everyone's safety ultimately rests on the drivers shoulders, period.
My understanding from talking to people who knew Kevin is that he was a very skilled and experienced high performance boat operator and stunt pilot who liked to run close to the edge and push the envelope with little margin for error. Video footage I have obtained clearly shows the boat as it crashed. The helicopter didn't capture the actual crash because the cameraman was changing camera positions and missed it. But his footage does show the water immediately behind Kevins boat in the last several hundred feet before the crash. From the splashes on the surface immediately behind the boat it looks like Kevin may have started what would be called a "chine walk" on a V hull boat right before he crossed what I believe to be the lead boats wake. While I'm not that well versed on the dynamics of high performance boat operation, I have went over the footage with a high performance driving instructor that was here with the "Extreme Boats" magazine crew. Based on those discussions, it appears Kevin was running with a slightly nose high attitude from just a tad too much trim, which caused the boat to start chine walking a little just before he entered the other boats wake.
The next film footage from a spectator picks up Kevins boat just before he enters the wake and shows him get way to much air under the bow as he leaves the water crossing the wake. The boat then glides through the air with a slightly nose high attitude for what must have been a hundred or more feet based on the length of the boat. At first the glide appears to be level port to starboard, but slightly nose high instead of flat as the instructor told me it should be. Mid-way through the glide the boat starts going waaaay nose high from the aerodynamics as it starts descending back to the surface of the water. It also begins to pitch slightly to port during the glide. This pitch and attitude causes the rear of the port sponson to impact first, with a bow high attitude of what must be close to 40 degrees. Landing at this angle and attitude at between 130-140 mph causes the port side of the stern to leave the water again and at the same time the dynamics of the impact forces the tilt of the boat to go to extreme starboard while still bow high. This causes the starboard side rear sponson to impact the water next as the boat is now rolled hard to starboard with the bow waaaaay high. The rear of the starboard sponson is the only thing in the water (except the props which are still producing forward thrust at this point) as it skims across the surface another boat length or so as it rolls even harder to starboard. Finally the full length of the boat re-enters the water rolled hard to starboard and digs in hard which causes the boat to veer violently to port and begin barrel rolling. It's at that point that you can see both men being ejected. Kevin, (sitting on the now high port side) appears to leave the boat first, with Craig, sitting on the low starboard side, leaving a tiny fraction of a second later. Thats when the spectator shooting the film drops the camera down and the crash scene leaves the frame. And before anyone asks, sorry, but I can't post the footage or otherwise distribute it without the owners consent, so no need to U2U asking me too.