Bishop Cruises in Yukon 800
(Reprinted from the June 26, 2000
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner)
By BOB ELEY
Click Bishop ushered in a new century of riverboat racing
the same way he left the last one--by winning the Alaska
Communications Systems Yukon 800 Marathon.
Bishop recorded his first Yukon 800 Marathon win in 1998
and then took last year off. He ushered in the new century by
dominating a seven-boat field in the 800-mile race from
Fairbanks to Galena and back along the Chena, Tanana and Yukon
"I wanted to race and win in two centuries and I
accomplished that this weekend," a smiling Bishop said
after guiding Pride of the Yukon to a near-record run with a
winning time of 12 hours, 22 minutes and 56 seconds.
That was just 44 seconds shy of the record set by Harold
Attla aboard Hughes Blues in 1997.
Attla finished second this year with a time of 13:25:29,
more than an hour behind the champion. A.J. Dick took third
place aboard Koyukuk Raiders in 13:37:39.
A pair of rookies rounded out the five finishers with
Archie Agnes taking fourth aboard Village Trash in 14:57:03
and Brian Cruger placing fifth aboard Millennium Edition in
Two boats didn't finish the event.
Bill Page, aboard Jen-Jen, was disqualified for changing
his main engine after he had already passed the official timed
start of the race at the Chena Pump Campground on the Tanana
Victor Williams, captain of the Challenger, and his crew
had to withdraw from the race in Galena after Williams was
seriously injured while attempting to move his boat to its
overnight resting place after finishing Saturday's downriver
run in fourth place.
The little finger on one of Williams' hands was completely
severed and the ring finger was severely damaged, according to
Fairbanks Outboard Association officials.
Williams was transported by medevac to Fairbanks Memorial
Hospital on Saturday night and was still in the hospital
Bishop was the only racer who didn't encounter some sort
difficulty during the two-day race.
He built a lead of more than 25 minutes on the downriver
run to Galena on Saturday and then pulled away from the rest
of the field shortly after the mass restart in Galena on
"It was just about perfect on the way down, but it was
a little rough coming back today" Bishop said as he stood
on the banks of the Chena River at Pike's Landing shortly
after completing the race. "It got rough on the Tanana
below Old Minto and we had to go about 50 mph the rest of the
Crew members Sue Mease and Avery Thomas agreed that
Sunday's return trip was much harder than the run to Galena.
"Saturday (the weather) was an absolute gift,"
said Mease, who was a member of the winning crew for the
fourth time. "Today we earned it. It was rough at all the
"Saturday was like driving on pavement, but today it
was like there were boulders in the road," Thomas said.
"We had an upriver wind today and that creates a surfer's
wave. We just had to fight 'em all the way back."
Bishop pretty much knew he had the race won as long as he
didn't run into any major problems on the run from Galena to
"By the time we got to Ruby I couldn't see anybody
else behind me, so I pretty much knew it was my race to
loose," Bishop said. "There was a fire at Bone Yard
(on the Yukon River below Tanana) and the smoke was as thick
as fog. You had to rely on experience to get through that
Attla and Dick stayed close to each other the entire return
trip and crossed the finish line at Pike's Landing together,
more than 30 minutes behind the champion.
"I was racing A.J. all the way back," Attla said.
"It was a pretty good race overall, but I did have some
Dick, who was driving Koyukuk Raiders in honor of Vernon
Jones, who died last September, said he was happy with the way
things went and was glad to return to Fairbanks after a rough
"When we had good water, the boat ran really
well," Dick said. "From Galena to Tanana it was
pretty good, but then it started to get rough."
How rough was it over the final 150 or so miles?
"I feel like I just went 12 rounds with the
heavyweight champ," said Lee McCotter, one of the crew
members of Koyukuk Raiders.
Both rookie racers accomplished their goal of finishing the
Yukon 800 in their first attempt as captain.
"I thought it was going to be a lot worse," Agnes
said after receiving congratulations from his family and
friends. "It probably does get worse, but this was a
pretty good year."
Cruger wasn't exactly thrilled by finishing fifth, but he
was grateful he was able to finish after encountering numerous
minor mishaps both on the way to Galena and on the way back.
"What could have gone wrong, went wrong," he
said. "Now we know the things we've got to get worked out
before next year."
© 2000 MediaNews Group, Inc. and Fairbanks Publishing