A Racer's Roots

Growing Up a Powerboat Racer In Ontario



Editor's Note: Tammy Wolf is the first and only Canadian to compete at the world-famous 24 Heures de Rouen (24 Hours of Rouen) powerboat races in France, where her all-female team finished 4th in Formula 2. But long before Tammy was making waves competing in Formula 2 racing, she was learning the ropes across Ontario. And what a place to learn—Ontario boasts some 400,000 lakes, rivers and streams that comprise an estimated 15% of the world's freshwater, making it an exceptional place to hit the water. In 2013, Tammy's team is proud to represent Mercury - Canada, a world leader in the marine industry. Thanks to their help, the team will compete in Formula 2 with a Mercury OptiMax 200 XS SST engine. Here, she shares her thoughts about growing up in Ontario, and the critical role that it played in her current success.

 

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Right from the beginning, my life evolved around powerboat racing. As I look back at my childhood, I am very grateful that I grew up in Ontario. Ontario gave me the foundation to become the athlete that I am today. I was privileged to enjoy its natural beauty and, very importantly, have access to its many freshwater lakes. My favourite times as a child were spent up at “the lake” (Go Home Lake on Georgian Bay, Muskoka) flying on top of the water, honing my powerboat racing skills.

By the age of 18, I was fully engulfed in the sport. Each weekend in the summer my family and I were either traveling across Ontario competing at races, or I was at the lake testing the equipment, learning to read the water, getting accustomed to new racing set-ups, and trying to get a little more speed out of my boat. 

As a driver, I was able to travel and visit beautiful towns and cities across the province. Some of my favourite racing venues included Sudbury, Dunnville, Gravenhurst and Toronto. Each site introduced a new and unique challenge. In Gravenhurst, we used to race on Gull Lake. In Dunnville, we raced on the Grand River in an annual event called "The Thunder on the Grand." And in Azilda, about 20 minutes north of Sudbury, thousands were attracted each year to the races at Whitewater Lake. These experiences, and many others here in Ontario, provided essential formative experiences for me as a powerboat racer. This gave me a concrete foundation, allowing me to compete almost 20 years later against the top powerboat athletes in the world.

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In 2004, I had the opportunity to showcase our team’s talent on an international scale, having been invited to race in the USA. For the last nine years, and thanks to an incredible start in Ontario, my team and I have become one of the top tunnel boat racing teams in North America. We have won Regional and Divisional Championships, and in 2010 we were ranked second in the United States. In 2012, I became the only Canadian to race at the world-famous 24 Heures de Rouen in France.

In 2013, with Mercury – Canada’s support, we stepped into the competitive world of Formula 2 (SST 200) powerboat racing. In our rookie year, we finished as the first runner-up (second place) at the World Championships in SST 200 and third place at the USA National Championship. Our goal to reach the top 10 in the series point’s race was obliterated as we finished the season’s series point’s race in second place.

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I am not sure what the future holds for my racing career, but one thing is clear—I couldn't have had the success that I've enjoyed without my start in Ontario.

 

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