CELINA — Both driver Dan Kanfoush and the Celina Governor’s Cup Regatta returned in top form after a year hiatus.
Kanfoush of Niagra Falls, New York, won his second straight Ohio Governor’s Cup on Sunday, becoming the first driver to win the inboard boat racing event three times.
After a tumultuous year in news about Grand Lake St. Marys and its clean-up, the weekend was all about the boat racing.
No one was happier to be back than Kanfoush, who drove Jim Sechler’s 1 Litre modified craft “Fast Eddie Too” to the victory to follow up his 2009 win. Kanfoush also won the 2006 title.
“It’s fantastic,” Kanfoush said. “You look at the list of people on this trophy and there are some fantastic drivers. To be included with those people even once is fantastic. I’m just fortunate I drive one heck of a boat. I just drive it as hard as I can.”
The finish was one of the closest in the event’s history, with Kanfoush beating out Bobby Kennedy and Calvin Phipps in a tiebreaker after all three drivers won four heats over the weekend. Kanfoush’s finish in relation to the world record decided the tiebreaker, with Kanfoush narrowly edging Kennedy by 0.14 miles per hour in relation to the record speed.
Kanfoush got the mark he needed in the fourth and final heat of the weekend, a speed of 2.76 miles per hour shy of the record that ended up snagging him the Governor’s Cup for a record third time.
“We knew we’d be in the running if we won that last heat, but we also knew we weren’t even close to the record going into the last heat,” Kanfoush said. “I was struggling with my starts this weekend. Sometimes you get weekends where you just can’t get a new start. So me and Jim (Sechler, owner of the boat) decided I was going to press the start as much as I could and if I jumped, I jumped. Fortunately I hit the start almost perfectly.”
Kanfoush said it was a good ending even if Kennedy edged him in the tiebreaker, as Kanfoush built the motor on Kennedy’s boat.
“It was a win-win situation for me, unless Cal Phipps won,” Kanfoush said, laughing.
Kanfoush again had son Eddie by his side for the victory celebration.
“This is our first weekend without mom at a race,” Kanfoush said.
The return of the regatta after a year hiatus due to the algae problem last summer meant a lot to the racers, Kanfoush said.
“We’ve been coming here since one of the first events here and we just love it here in Celina,” Kanfoush said. “The community support is fantastic. The work that the lake restoration committee did was just awesome. I really missed being here last year. This is one of the best races on the circuit.”
The regatta enjoyed mild temperatures and dry conditions for the two-day event that hosted both the APBA Inboard World Championships and the Ohio Governor’s Cup Regatta. Thousands lined Lakeshore Drive to take in the regatta just a year after algae blooms caused organizers to call off the event.
The Lake Improvement Association hosted a booth at the regatta.
Jeff Ahlers, who does the public address announcing for the regatta said it was what he believed a milestone of the effort.
“The (regatta) committee deserves a hand for what they went through last year,” Ahlers said. “Their hearts were broken. Sometimes Mother Nature wins and it won last year, but we’re going to be back in 2012, no doubt about it.”
Veteran area driver Ron Snyder handed out the awards for the vintage class drivers at the ceremony on Lakeshore Drive.