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Mostly cloudy to partly cloudy skies will continue for today. Expect a warm afternoon with highs peaking in the lower 70's. Partly cloudy to mostly clear skies return for tonight with lows beginning around the mid 50's tomorrow morning. Mostly sunny and breezy for Wednesday. Highs will only reach the low and mid 60's. A brief shot of ...
Tunnel racing brings competitors from across the country to Orange
ORANGE- by Haley Bull
Tunnel boat racers from across the country gathered in Orange over the weekend for the 6th Annual Showdown on the Sabine. Over thirty boats participated in the three-day long racing series, bringing an economic boost and fierce competition to the Golden Triangle.
The adrenaline is beyond anything you could imagine. You just gotta do it in order to understand, said Steve Merleau, 31. Merleau is in his 6th year racing. He traveled 18 hours from St.Joseph, MI to compete.
Im a totally different person. Im a nice person outside of the boat. Inside of the boat, you know, I dont even want to know what it would be like to be next to me when Im racing, said Merleau.
Merleaus racing spirit didn't just give him an edge on the water. It gave an economic boost to the city of Orange. The weekends event drew over a thousand spectators, a number diminished from rainy weather.
Jay Trahan, Director of Economic Development for Orange, hoped the event increased hotel occupancy and helped local businesses. It gives us an opportunity to bring in guests from out of town to visit Orange that perhaps wouldnt come if we didnt have this event, said Trahan.
He also hoped it fostered a sense of community for Orange and the racers.
Its a pure battle on the race course and we come in shake hands and we help each other do anything, Texas Citys Chris Hughes, 37, said.
The boats competed in races ranging from 10 to 30 laps long, reaching speeds 70-80 mph. It was not uncommon for boats to flip. These dangers still scared some competitors.
I get scared, yeah. Its right before we take off is when I get scared, Merleau said. If anybody says they dont get scared theyre lying.
The Sept. 20-22 competition was the final stop in an 8-event season.