1969 Seafair Trophy Race
Fred Farley Remembers 'The Wanderer'
Fred, what do you remember about that strange-looking boat from California — The Wanderer — that crashed to the bottom of Lake Washington about 30 years ago? - Anonymous
I remember it well. The Wanderer was the former "tennis shoe" $ Bill that Bill Schuyler was persuaded to gave up on in 1961.
New owners Ron Kasper and Ken Murphy of Sacramento brought it back in 1969.
That was a Fred Wickens-designed hull. Wickens also designed the 1968 "skateboard" Atlas Van Lines. And like the "skateboard." the "tennis shoe" had great difficulty in cornering.
Co-owner/driver Kasper was unable to qualify The Wanderer (U-45) at the Tri-Cities and Seattle races in 1969. Bob Miller took it out at Seattle but could only do about 83 miles per hour on the 3-mile course.
One story that I've heard about The Wanderer has to do with Kasper asking some veteran drivers for advice on how to better get around the corners. One driver jokingly replied, "Gee, I had the same problem with my boat. I would get up a good head of speed, and then go hard to the right, hard to the left, hard to the right, and hard to the left again and she would scoot right around the turn." He was kidding and thought that Kasper understood that he was just kidding. But Ron thought that the guy was serious.
Kasper fired up the Allison engine and headed toward the Floating Bridge, located way north of the race course. He turned south and made a "flying start" for a qualification attempt. It was the fastest that anybody had ever seen The Wanderer go. As Ron approached the south turn, near Seward Park, he didn't appear to slow down at all.
The boat then leaped clear of the water, spit Kasper out as if he were a pumpkin seed, and dove to the bottom of Lake Washington. Ron fortunately was not seriously injured.
While all of this was happening, I was a passenger in a shuttle boat heading from the pits to the official barge, which was anchored off-shore. No one in the shuttle or on the barge seemed to be paying attention to what had happened to Kasper's boat. I stood up and started shouting "The Wanderer went down! The Wanderer went down!"
Bill O'Mara, the radio announcer, must have heard me. When I stepped out of the shuttle and onto the barge, he shoved a microphone in front of my face and asked me what I had seen.
I replied to Bill, "It went like this." And I made a gesture with my hand to describe the arc that the boat had made when it twisted into the air.
Then, I thought to myself, "Farley, you're an idiot! You don't make hand gestures on the radio!"
I really blew it that time.
(Reprinted from the Powerboat List, May 17, 2002
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