Richland Regatta a Success Despite Setbacks
NWPBA Talks About 2022 Event
Story and Photos by Jamie Council
(Richland, WA) More than 40 boats hit the water of the Columbia for the Richland Regatta, the race serving as the American Power Boat Association (APBA) Western Divisional. All races took place, all points awarded, and racing even ended ahead of schedule.
“That never happens,” said John Culver, Co-Race Director and Northwest Power Boat Association (NWPBA) Board of Directors. “Going up and down these shores, it was more people on Saturday and Sunday than I’ve ever seen. Just to see how the Tri-Cities embraces this race was the highlight of the weekend.”
Culver said that they experimented this year by opening up Howard Amon Drive, which is normally closed due to golf cart event traffic. He said he believes it helped fill the park by allowing more event parking. The Richland Regatta is a free event, so tracking exact numbers isn’t a science but rather a comparative guestimate.
But for first-year NWPBA President, Charlie Grigg, the highlight came much later in the weekend.
“Right now,” laughed Grigg on Sunday evening. “We’re done. The guy and guys that have done it before me made it look easy. It is a major undertaking. We are small in numbers, so the guys and gals that are here work their buns off.”
A lot of work went into the weekend, and like almost every event, didn’t go off without a hitch.
“When we showed up Thursday,” explained Culver. “I thought here we go again.”
Without having to worry about 120-degree temperature like in 2021, the river was the worry in 2022.
“The water is so high right now,” said Culver, “the racers were walking in 2.5 feet of water to get to their boats.”
High Waters Cover Boat Dock
With the river level, the current made setting the course tough. The NWPBA said they spent 13 hours on Thursday setting the course only to have their labor in vain when Friday morning rolled around… However, Culver explains the upside to the challenging course.
“On Friday,” said Culver, “part of the course had floated down the river. It was not a pretty course, but actually gave some of the greatest corner racing you’ve ever seen.”
Like all of America, the racing community is feeling the effects of surging gas prices and the economy as a whole. It’s one of a few factors that contributed to a lowered boat count.
“They chose to stay home,” said Grigg. “I just talked to one of the region guys that said that he put $450 into his RV to drive over and he’ll have fill up before heading back.”
The financial stress of traveling combined with the Richland Regatta being the same day of the H1 Unlimited Gold Cup in Guntersville, Alabama and the Idaho Regatta contributed to less boats hitting the Columbia River in Richland.
“We had no flat bottoms for first time in 6 years,” explained Culver. “There’s a lot of region people that work on other teams, so there was a lot of people out of town [in Alabama].”
Despite the setbacks of the river conditions, the decreased numbers, and challenging economy, the Board of Directors of the NWPBA say they are pleased with the outcome.
“Despite it all, this was one of the best years we’ve had,” said NWPB Board of Director Member Terry Thrall. “It was a beautiful weekend for people to come out and enjoy a free event, and that’s exactly what they did.”
From Right to Left: Terry Thrall, John Culver, Charlie Grigg
Every time a boat crossed the finish line, it did so at the John Mostoller Finish Line. John Mostoller had been the NWPBA President for the previous three years and last September Lost his eight-year battle with prostate cancer.
Grigg and Mostoller having more in common than having held the title of NWPBA President.
“We kind of had a bond over cancer,” explained Grigg. “I had cancer four years ago. When he lost his battle, it was tough. There is survivor’s guilt in cancer. It’s very common. I’m trying to live up to what he did.”
Grigg and Culver said that the biggest legacy Mosteller leaves behind is his leadership.
“We’re all here because of John,” said Culver. “His legacy is still here, and we’re just trying to continue that. He was a perfectionist and he loved racing. It’s always in the back of my mind What would John do?”
The Richland Regatta serves as a way to honor the loss of Mosteller in the racing community, and many in the racing family have memories of his leadership.
Culver’s most distinct memory coming from their days working together at the Tri-City Water Follies. Mostoller was the Race Director and Culver was the Pit Chairman. Mostoller had a singing card with the tune I Feel Good.
“Every time I’d come up with a complaint or concern, he’d say hold on and pull of that card: I feel good!” laughed Culver. “I will never forget that. I can still hear it. You know how it crappy sound on those cards are? I was waiting for that battery to die.”
Just like John Mostoller’s legacy on the racing community, the Richland Regatta lives on where the small group that works to put it together will spend the next year planning, maintaining permits, insurance, and praying for the river and weather to cooperate.
“Thank you, Tri-Cities for coming out to support this event. It makes it worthwhile.”
The NWPBA association is always looking for volunteers. For more information, visit https://www.nwpba.com.