Double Fatality Accident At Lake Dora, Florida – Spring Thunder Raceboat Event Today

Lake Dora, Florida 3:15 PM EST Sunday – We have just received a report that there was a second tragic accident today during the limited hydroplane raceboat demonstration at Lake Dora, Florida.

Joyce Ross, Public Information Officer with The City of Tavares confirmed that the two hydroplane raceboat drivers who were killed today are Charles Woodruff and Dea Wiseley. During the pre-race meeting for all the participants this morning, the organizers of the event stressed the importance of safety during the demonstration races today, in light of Saturday’s unfortunate raceboat accident that claimed the life of driver Mark Van Winkle of Stewart, Florida.

Local news crews from Fox, ABC, etc were on site to cover the story.

The raceboat demonstration was part of the Classic Raceboat Association – Spring Thunder Regatta which was being held on Lake Dora in Tavares, Florida.

We will continue to update the story of this terrible tragedy as more information becomes avaliable.

11 replies
  1. DonD
    DonD says:

    Woah, dude,

    I’m beginning to wonder about making that 2,500 mi round-trip on the highway? 

    Is it not true that factory warranties didn’t apply to ‘race-boats’?
    Do insurance companies insure them in the water?

    Were any of these boats “Preservations”?     

    Perhaps some “racing capability credentials” must be met?

    I don’t have to escape winter, its 77-today.
    I’m just coming to visit and have fun…, knock off the fatalities.

    My condolences to all who suffer this demise…, I celebrate those who are gone, knowing they were at the height of enjoying life!         


  2. Paul H.
    Paul H. says:

    Can’t answer about the history of the boats, but I think it is farily well understood that race boats undergo near constant repair and upgrading. It was also stressed today that, as many of us know, these were not races – they are demonstrations of vintage boats, and no prizes or placings were given out. I understand that at least one of the fatally injured drivers was a very accomplished racer himself. Beyond that, no one here is in a position to speculate on anything.

    I think that many are looking forward to a hopefully benign classic boat show next weekend. The happenings this weekend were a terrible shock to all involved with this event.

  3. Larry forget
    Larry forget says:

    Double sad weekend event..YES, Orlando Sental newspaper reports TWO more deaths Sunday . A 64 yr old driver & 73 yr Driver.. Both from Florida. One boat climbed on top of other. !These are Vintage Historic craft, but the drivers take certification
     courses during the year, etc, etc.  NOT Good for their association.

  4. Mark
    Mark says:

    This has been a very rough weekend. There are lots of possible causes, but nothing has been narrowed down yet. I witnessed both accidents, and they were certainly extraneous circumstances.

  5. Tom
    Tom says:

    Very tragic weekend especially for the family members left behind of the three men that passed. RIP

    Suzy looked great with her top up leaving the Tavares dock this afternoon Matt.  I look forward to meeting all of you throughout the week.       

  6. Harry Wilson
    Harry Wilson says:

    I raced hydroplanes for 25 years across Canada and the USA. I was on the water in last year’s Tavares Classic Raceboat Association meet, courtesy of a member of our racing fraternity. I remember how clearly the event organizers made their case about putting on a SAFE show at the drivers’ meetings, and reminding all drivers that the days’ events were not races. I also remember the adrenalin rush of having a throughbred back underneath me, tempered with a healthy realization that age had lessened my skill sets.

    Despite all precautions, raceboats are raceboats and prone to nasty habits. March 17-18 2012 will go down as one of the darkest days in the history of men and women going fast in boats. I feel the loss of three members of the racing fraternity at the core of my being.  My heart goes out to the families and friends of the men who lost their lives doing what they loved, and to the CRA and the City of Tavares who are surely wondering if they will ever recover from this weekend.

    Requiescat in pace. It is time to grieve, but grief is and must be the painful and unavoidable first step to recovery. There are always lessons to be learned from tragedies; it would be a discredit to the memory of our lost friends if we did not rise up to learn and to carry on.  

  7. matt
    matt says:

    Harry, we could not have said it better. The gang of vintage racers is a wonderful concienciois group. And I know they are all sick over this. You could see it in there eyes this afternoon. My heart went out to them and there families and to all the folks involved in the accedents. I honestly did not want to report this news . And held back because it felt wrong and a very private moment. But hoped that in some small way we could help folks understand how great this small community is and give a place for folks like you to say wonderful things like you did. Thanks agin Harry.. Matt

  8. Scott Ales
    Scott Ales says:

    Matt and the gang,  there is a tremendous benefit of reporting news of all nature within this hobby.  We have faith and trust in what you all do, that is important.  The traditional news sources do not understand us, you do.  I was out of the country all last week and returned Saturday evening.  Our friends at church told Debra the news and I went straight to Woodyboater.  Our trusted source.  I understand the decision was uncomfortable, but in my humble opinion it was the right one.
    Edward R. Murrow quote: “The speed of communications is wondrous to behold.  It is also true that speed can multiply the distribution of information that we know not to be true.”
    Thank you for what you do and providing the hobby a place to celebrate and mourn together.  I encourage you to create tributes to those that passed these last few days. I am sure their stories are wonderful and will warm our hearts and most importantly their families.
    God bless

  9. Sabina
    Sabina says:

    Matt & Co, I second everything Scott says – what you do as “reporters” is bring this boating community together – both in thrill and in tragedy. There is not a woodyboater around the world that does not appreciate your respectful and timely reporting because it gives us an opportunity to add our thoughts and prayers for the families involved. Having been the recipient of such healing prayers from this wood boat family I can tell you that it means the world.

  10. Jim Savage
    Jim Savage says:

    I raced A/B and C/D hydros and runabouts for 20 years and considered myself lucky on several occasions. My heart is saddened to hear of these tragic deaths. One fatality was my age, 73, and I am sure he died doing his favorite thing!! I still have a “go fast” 1960 Glasspar G-3 with a Tower of Power Merc 1000 on it, as I still like to go fast at the lake!! (My boat will be on display this weekend at Tavares).

    My prayers go out to all the families of these guys who were part of a very special group of people who loved boat racing!!! 

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