Randy Robbins, Pilot Correspondent

Three-time reigning Cal-Ore River Racers defending champion Roger Sanderson, in his hydroplane boat #B200, returned to Gold Beach July 7 and did what he does best: Win.

Sanderson had missed the Rooster Crow race the weekend before, but that didn’t stop the seasoned veteran, now with 58 wins under his helmet, from grabbing the checkered flag on this Curry County leg of the Cal-Ore racing circuit.

Weather conditions for the race were near-perfect, with sunshine and temperatures at river’s edge hovering near 70 degrees. It was all good for the racers … except for some scary wind gusts.

A large contingent of leftover Fourth of July tourists, plus locals and racing fans, lined the Rogue to take in the race, which began at 10 a.m. from Huntley Park 7 miles upriver.
Boat racers made the turn at Patterson Memorial Bridge, sending a sideways plume of whitewater spraying behind them, before jetting back up the river.

The boats can reach speeds in excess of 85 mph, according to those who race these humming crafts on a regular basis.
Sanderson went flag to flag, notching his fourth win of the season.
The Pacific Aviation-Oregon California Supply Lower Rogue Challenge gathered some of the best racers from California and Oregon, with several entrants from Hoopa, California and Grants Pass.

Sanderson bested Hoopa’s Jude Hostler #50, who ending up nabbing the second spot after Michael Dickson #48 of Willow Creek had the leader in his sites but got some air when the wind blew him sideways onto a gravel bar. Dickson was uninjured.

“My boat might be old,” said Dickson, “but it’s fast … We will be back, as we are getting faster and faster every race, and want to run with the 200.”

Rounding out the podium in third place was Cameron Kirkland #68 of Grants Pass.
The Cal-Ore racers will take a couple of weeks off before returning to the circuit to race in Agness, further up the Rogue, August 3-4.

(Jay Reese of CorraMedia contributed information for this report.)