Share This Page

Rain-swollen rivers hold risks for personal watercraft racers at regatta

| Thursday, July 3, 2014, 10:18 p.m.
Guy Wathen | Tribune-Review
Teams participating in the PITT Sailing Club Invitational set sail from the North Shore on July 3, 2014. The intercollegiate sailing regatta, the first ever held in Pittsburgh, featured teams from the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Akron.
Guy Wathen | Tribune-Review
Jessica Bailey, a senior at the University of Akron, prepares to set sail from the North Shore during the PITT Sailing Club Invitational on July 3, 2014. The intercollegiate sailing regatta, the first ever held in Pittsburgh, featured teams from the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Akron.

Despite traveling high speeds on a rain-swollen river with possible risks from branches and other debris, several personal watercraft race competitors in the EQT Pittsburgh Three Rivers Regatta on Thursday said they were not concerned about conditions from recent stormy weather.

“It's a little breezy, but no matter what it is, if it's rain or shine, six-foot waves or flat, we'll race as long as there's no lightning or thunder,” said Victor Nolan, 29, of Baltimore.

Nolan has been riding watercrafts since he was 21. He has been injured twice during his career. He once broke some ribs and, another time, separated his collarbone from the shoulder blade.

“Those were pretty bad injuries,” Nolan said. “But as the competition gets more intense and the speed gets higher, there's an increase in danger.”

He said he continues racing because of a love for the sport.

“It's a passion you need more than anything in order to keep racing,” Nolan said.

Mike Young, announcer for the race, said he was concerned about the Allegheny River being higher and swifter than normal because rising currents could move the buoys used to direct the racers.

“It gets dangerous, that's all,” he said.

To be sure there would be no issues with the buoys during the hourlong race, Young said, they were testing some in the river. Other than that, he said the race would be “easy peasy.”

“To me, that's the first thing,” he said. “Safety is always our first key, especially after doing this for so long.”

Jay Edworthy, 40, of Cambridge, Ontario, started riding watercraft in 1989. He began racing in 1998. He said he once broke his arm because he was thrown from a watercraft.

“It's not the safest sport in the world,” he said. “There have been fatalities; there have been people who have been really hurt.”

And there have been a lot of events and races in which there are no injuries or issues, Nolan said.

“You can find the bad in anything,” he said. “I try to find the positive.”

Megan Henney is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7987 or mhenney@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.