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Skier, 18, Skims to Course Record in Catalina Race

September 03, 1987

There are fast ways to get to Santa Catalina Island and back, but water skiing has to be one of the hairiest. Imagine traveling 80 m.p.h. over the ocean with one thin board under your feet!

The people who do this sort of thing are young--high school and college age. In fact, the winner of this year's 39th running of the Catalina Water Ski Race is Mason Thompson, an 18-year-old graduate of Huntington Beach High School and, as of this week, a freshman at USC.

Thompson's time of 54 minutes, 56 seconds, set a record for the course which started between the oil islands Grissom and White and ended at Long Beach Harbor near the Queen Mary. A light fog was present Sunday morning as the boats and their skiers crossed the finish line, left photo.

In lower left photo, Thompson, left, chats after the race with Kurt Schoen of Mesa, Ariz., who held the old course record of 57:37 set in 1985. Thompson also won the race in 1984 at age 15. The course of 53 nautical miles makes a U-turn just outside Avalon.

Thompson was pulled by a 38-foot scarab ocean racing boat equipped with twin Chevrolet 495cc engines and driven by Vic Edelbrock. It is capable of a top speed of 90 m.p.h.

Below, a boat makes a tight turn close to the rocks near the Queensway Bridge after dropping its skier at the end of the race. Because of a new regulation limiting speeds in the channel near the Queen Mary, a special permit had to be filed with the city to allow the boats to use their traditional finish line. However, the boats were not permitted to pass the Queensway Bridge, which would have allowed them to slow down and drop skiers away from the finish line. Several close calls resulted from boats dropping their skiers in the path of still-racing boats.

FO

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