June 12, 2013 — A Grayson Dive Team member had a unique opportunity to expand his resume earlier this month.
Justin Stone traveled to Knoxville for the June 1 and 2 Powerboat Superleague Racing kickoff.
The event was held in downtown Knoxville on the Tennessee River.
Stone was not racing but working as a rescue diver. He has been diving since 2010 and said race rescue is a totally different experience.
“We had to jump off the boat to reach the victim,” Stone said. “I also had to do new training on the capsule the driver sits in to get him out as well as myself.”
Although rescue boats only travel at about 10-15 miles per hour, Stone said entering the water at that speed was challenging.
“I had to hold my mask and regulator on my face because the water will rip it out if you don't,” Stone said. “I had to be able to quickly reach the boat and stop the engine, open the capsule and release the steering wheel to pull the driver out.”
While there, Stone saw two accidents. He said crashes happen regularly at boat races but he only had to make one rescue, and the driver was not injured.
“I love racing but I had never been to a boat race before,” Stone said. “They have already asked me to go to the next race in Pittsburgh on July 2, 3, and 4.”
The course in Knoxville was a rectangle and boats hit speeds of up to 125 miles per hour, making sharp turns at incredible speeds, thanks to the design of the tunnel boats.
The race attracted more than 15 drivers from across the U.S.
Leeann Akers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 474-5101.