Edmonds native gets his shot at driving unlimited hydro Friday

Jesse Robertson returns to the pits after his first-ever unlimited drive. (Photo courtesy of FEDCO racing)
Jesse Robertson returns to the pits after his first-ever unlimited drive. (Photo courtesy of FEDCO racing)

Former Edmonds resident Jesse Robertson had his first opportunity to drive an unlimited hydroplane Friday at Seafair’s Albert Lee Applicance Cup.

The 33-year-old Robertson was born at the former Stevens Hospital (now Swedish/Edmonds) and has lived in Edmonds off and on ever since. Currently a West Seattle resident, he has been hoping for this opportunity for several years. Robertson got his start racing radio-controlled unlimited hydroplanes in the late 1990s. After winning the model championship each of his first four years, he decided to move on to a hydroplane you can actually sit in.

He has raced in numerous classes over the past several years and has excelled in each class. Currently he is driving a Grand Prix class hydroplane on the Eastern circuit. Robertson’s expertise has been in getting the inside lane (the shorter way around the course) and timing his starts nearly perfectly,

After staying in touch with unlimited race teams for the past several years, he finally got his first opportunity to drive one Friday. Mark Evans, owner/driver of the FEDCO unlimited, allowed Jesse to take the U-57 out for a test run today. Robertson got in four laps, including two at over 130 mph this morning. While doing laps at that speed, he hit over 175 mph on the straightaways.

Robertson told My Edmonds News that this was a dream he has held for years and he was very excited to have the opportunity. “The boat seems much smaller once you get inside than it does when looking at it from the ground,” he said. “The ride is similar as to what I feel in the smaller-class boats.” Because the boat “is quite a bit heavier, you don’t really know how fast you are going until your radioman calls in your speed from shore,” he said.  He also offered his thanks to boat owner Mark Evans and the entire FEDCO team “for the wonderful opportunity and the well-prepared boat.”

Robertson needs a total of 10 laps at speeds in excess of 130 mph in order to qualify as an unlimited driver. He expects to accomplish that Saturday morning.

— By Harry Gatjens


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