BOAT RACES: Love Them or Loathe Them?

An opinion survey is being conducted through October 30th to gauge community support of the Annual Boat Races on Angle Lake. The survey consists of one question: “Do you support permitting boat racing one weekend a year?” A binary YES or NO response is requested and requires that your home address be provided to verify only one response is received per residence. 

The survey can be completed using any internet connected device, including mobile phones, and is located here:


How did we get here?

In 2012, a few Angle Lake Shore Club members pondered event concepts that might increase interest in the area and offer family entertainment to our local community. Discussion included having festivals like Celebrate America (HERE and HERE), hosting athletic competitions like a Des Moines Creek/Angle Lake Triathlon, holding a dinghy class sailboat regatta, and bringing hydroplane racing back to Angle Lake. As crazy as it seemed during that time, several residents attested that hydroplane racing events had occurred on Angle Lake in the distant past. So a small task force was formed to begin exploring the possibility of reintroducing hydroplane racing back into the community.

When discussing the idea with individuals outside the group, first impressions were formed from their recollection of Seafair Unlimited Hydroplane Racing experiences—recalling when groups of often inebriated race fans gathered to watch large and noisy boats racing around an oval course at an extremely high rate of speed. And based on those memories, who would welcome that kind of experience to a small residential community?

While the design for the overall event was to be modeled after the Seafair race format, research revealed that Junior Series Hydroplane and Small Outboard Boat Racing is not comprised of a bunch of old white guys feeding their need for speed but is proven to truly be a family sport comprised of youth, both boys and girls, working together with their families, both Moms, and Dads (and even grandparents), learning the art and skill of boat building; developing mechanical expertise; and experiencing the sport of organized racing. Who wouldn’t want to support an event of that nature in their community?

In 2013 a survey to gauge interest in bringing back boat racing was sent out to 177 homes around the lake. Of the 174 responses received, only 14% were not in favor of the idea. At that time, it was evident that there was support from the majority of the community, but could we gain the necessary approval from City of SeaTac authorities to stage the races at Angle Lake Park? After several rounds of negotiation with city representatives over the span of a couple of years, the City Council finally voted to approve a one-time event to be held on a trial basis in 2016. By delivering a highly successful, high-quality family event that first year reaffirmed community interest and eliminated the unjustified accusations that the event would have a detrimental effect on the lake environment. 

The race event has been held each year from 2016 through 2021, with only one year – 2020 canceled due to the Covid 19 Pandemic Restrictions.  Having been five years since the original survey was performed, city staff felt it prudent to re-survey the surrounding community to reaffirm majority interest still exists within the community.

The Rest, as they say, is History. 


John A. said...

As someone who lives on the North-Eastern wing of the lake the boat racing was hardly noticeable. Where the buoy line was placed it appeared we weren't allowed to go far enough to watch from our boats. When the Shore Club anchored the docks for a place to watch from it was an enjoyable event, the race announcer can be heard on the radio there as well. If the event continues perhaps these suggestions will be looked into.

Angle Lake Shore Club Blog said...

John A. - unfortunately the permitting decision for 'go' was reached later than normal, leaving little lead-time for the Shore Club to coordinate getting the barges into place as we had previously done. Hopefully this is just an anomaly of Covid not a norm.

In response to the buoy line, insurance requires that SOA put out this marker to alert everyone about restricted access. This has been the case every year but I think communication can be improved letting folks know that you can go around either end of the buoy line to pull in closer to the race course (especially where the barges are traditionally positioned). I'm sorry if this prevented you and your guests from enjoying the races this year.