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VENTURA : Powerboat Racers Take the Challenge

August 20, 1995|TRACY WILSON

The loud growl of about 30 sleek powerboats echoed up and down the Ventura coastline Saturday during the Powerboat Magazine Ventura Offshore Challenge, the second of seven Pacific Offshore Power Boat Racing Assn. races to qualify for the world championships this fall.

Boats gunning up to 100 m.p.h. streaked though the ocean on an eight-mile course that started by the Ventura Harbor, looped three miles north and back again. Competitors circled the course eight to 12 times, depending on the race class.

"It was a fun race," said winner Rique Ford, the world and national champion powerboat racer who was nearly killed 11 months ago after being run over by his own 12,000-pound boat and trailer during a failed boat theft in his Norco, Calif., driveway.

Ford's pelvis was crushed, his spleen and colon ruptured. But after months of rehabilitation, he was back in his boat Saturday. It was his second race since the accident.

"I'm feeling fine," Ford said. "I still don't have all the strength back in my body. But I got a good guy beside me."

Ford's friend, Graham Horne of New Zealand, came to Ventura to drive Ford's 36-foot white and yellow boat, Ragamuffin, in Saturday's race with him. The sleek $250,000 boat was parked in the Ventura Harbor after the competition for hundreds of spectators to see.

Ventura residents Sallie and Bill Porter admired the vessel from shore. The couple came out Saturday to watch the tail end of the race as the boats streaked through the water making a deafening noise.

"It is a rich man's sport," Sallie Porter said. "This is out of our class."

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