Frank Murray has returned home from Monaco as the Circuit River Marathon Class Jet Boat B World Champion.
“Some people play golf, run, knit, write books – but I get my relaxation by racing,” said Murray. He won the rights to this award after a race in Mexico in 2010 during which he traveled over 800 km on three bodies of water in five hours of racing time.
The races in Mexico consisted of 56 boats, each capable of going between 90 and 140 miles an hour.
“You’ve got to have the nutcases that want to go 140 miles an hour on the water.”
Murray has been racing jet boats since 2002 but has been racing other motor vehicles since 1972.
When he is on home soil he is the owner and operator of an oilfield safety training company called Arresting You Ltd.
Some of the courses Murray provides through his company include confined space entry and rescue, fall protection training, emergency descent and detection and control of flammable substances.
The training Murray’s company offers has aided him in his racing and high-adrenaline sport career.
“It is the epitome of analyzing risk and realizing when you’ve gone beyond safe risk.”
He has been hospitalized 22 times for broken bones and says he is not exactly proud of it.
“The outcome is not all that surprising when you take into account what you’re doing.”
Along with having raced the jet boats, Murray has done 80 laps in a NASCAR car, raced motorcycles and raced cars as well.
He explains that racing in Mexico was not his intent. He was supposed to travel with the support boat with somebody else competing.
Murray ended up placing first in the ‘B’ Class and third out of a total number of 56 boats.
On this trip he had Dave Hazlett as his navigator. The navigator is able to see much further than the drivers themselves and alert them to natural, or unnatural, dangers in the water.
Hazlett, however, was unable to attend the awards ceremony. Fellow jet boat racer Dale Whiteside, owner of Eagle Outlaw Manufacturing Ltd., accompanied Murray and accepted the award on Hazlett’s behalf.
The ‘A’ class winner, Robert Chrunyk was also not able to attend the awards but Murray acknowledges him for the title he holds. Chrunyk is the longest running jet boater in North America.
Murray is happy about his title but says he doesn’t live and breathe for the sport.
“I’m just going to go boating. If I get to the end first, yay, if I break down, oh well.”
The boat Murray races with has 400 horsepower and runs almost exclusively at full throttle.
“That engine of mine has spent 98 per cent of its time wide open and it has 130 hours on it.”
The racing number Murray uses is ‘123’ because he always wants to finish in first, second or third just to be on the podium.
While people cringe at the idea of going 140 miles an hour on water, Murray enjoys the rush and the thrill of the sport.
“The water is constantly changing with wakes, rocks, rapids, shallows or wood in it. The medium we race on is the challenge.”
The “high speed stuff” is not Murray’s foremost concern for danger.
“There is not a high list of crashes.”
He explains that we take risks every day whether it be driving on the highway or walking up and down the stairs.
“We all need a better body awareness – if we’re not balanced properly over our feet or if our hands don’t have the right grip.”
Even with the jet boats there are things that Murray does to ensure that the risks he is taking are safe and educated ones.
Boaters are required to wear a helmet, five-point harness, and have their boats in racing condition as per the standards in place for the event.
“Really, how do you apply safety concerns when you’re going 140 miles an hour,” said Murray while laughing.
Murray plans to continue racing and is looking forward to this year’s event taking place from July 1-9 in Whitecourt, Peace River and Grande Prairie as well as Hay River, which is located in the Northwest Territories.