About Us

Leslie Field
Leslie Field

Born in Seattle, WA in 1945, I became a hydroplane fan when our family bought a black-and-white RCA TV to watch the 1953 Gold Cup from Lake Washington. The hydro bug bit me and the fever never left. I moved to Canada in 1970 and I worked for the University of British Columbia Library for 35 years, retiring in 2016. The last several years at the library I was the lead tech in the Digitization Centre (which digitizes historical material of all forms). Since retirement I've spent many hours each day scanning and editing material for this website and its sister Facebook page.

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The Hydroplane History website first appeared in early 1996 as a single page on Lance Gleich's pre-UHRA.com site at Stanford. I avidly followed hydroplane racing in the '50's and '60's when I lived in Seattle but I had drifted away from the sport. One day in 1995 while cleaning out my mother's attic in Bellevue, Washington I ran across a copy of Paul Lowney's 1959 book, This is Hydroplaning. I had long forgotten I owned a copy of the book but when I flipped through the pages the delicious memories of the thunderboats of my childhood came rushing back to me.

I scanned several of the images from the book and uploaded them along with their descriptions to Lance's website. There they lived for several months. Eventually Lance left Stanford and his old site was shut down. I transferred the files to my personal site at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada (at that time I worked in the University Archives there). For a year or so that small site (a single page and a few dozen images) attracted a few hits per month and some emails of appreciation. In May 1998 there was suddenly a major increase in traffic: many hits per day, much email traffic, requests for information and other pictures. I decided to make use of what few talents I have and try to give something back to the sport which had given me so much pleasure in my youth.

In the summer of 1998 I acquired my own domain name (lesliefield.com) and went about setting up a new website. Starting with the Lowney material I reorganized and redesigned the site so that it would support both frames and non-frames approaches. With the purchase of additional material, correspondence with several other enthusiasts and access to old publications and microfilms in both Vancouver and Seattle, I began to develop an information base that could begin to describe the history of our sport.

After a few tentative steps in August 1998, the site appeared for real in late September. The feedback I got from those who'd seen the site encouraged me to attempt to make it broader and even more comprehensive.

After a few hiccups and a period of stagnation Hydroplane History became re-energized (with the encouragement of Fred Farley) in 2015. A new domain name was acquired (hydroplanehistory.com) and transfer of all data from the old site (lesliefield.com) began. The scope covered was greatly expanded to include comprehensive race coverage (text, photos and stats), features on teams, personalities, boat designs, etc. Coding in HTML5 and the latest CSS using Dreamweaver with an effort to observe the highest CSS3 standards.

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The site started off describing a few boats from the '50's; the scope was later expanded to attempt to document through text and images the history of all of the 200 or so hulls in the Modern Era (1946 onward) in their various incarnations as well as descriptions and statistics on the hundreds of races run during this time. Plans included special sections devoted to the Gold Cup and Harmsworth races, a tributes section which acknowledged those who lost their lives racing or in pursuit of the water speed record, broadening to include other individuals who have contributed to the sport and finally, the world straightaway speed record.

The website is constantly evolving and I've decided to extend the coverage back to the beginning of the 20th Century so as to make for a more complete historical record. Video and audio files were also added.

[Plans are afoot to add a searchable photo database so as to allow for faster location of images -- if a suitable solution can be developed]

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The website is now hosted by Dreamhost which allows for unlimited content -- text, photos and multimedia. This is an enormous improvement over the limits imposed by my former webhost.

Primary authoring with Adobe Dreamweaver is on an iMac (Retina 5K, 27-inch) running Mac OS Big Sur. Testing devices also include Windows 7 and Windows 10. Mobile testing is primarily a late-model iPhone. All major browsers are used in testing.

Scanning of photos and text is performed on an Epson Perfection V850 Pro scanner with Epson Scan or LaserSoft Imaging Silverfast. Photo editing is with Adobe Photoshop and Affinity Photo. Optical Character Recognition (OCR) is on ABBYY Finereader PDF. Text editing before insertion in Dreamweaver pages is on BBEDIT, Microsoft Excel and (for format conversion) Microsoft WORD. Galleries of images are prepared with Juicebox.

Video capture from live or DVR'd material uses a Hauppauge HD PVR . Capture of streaming video online uses Camtasia Studio. Video downloads use iTube Studio. Video editing is on Adobe Premiere Pro. Other tools are VLC from VideoLan, Handbrake, and Adobe Media Encoder. Video presentation is with JW Player. Motion picture film stock is farmed out to a local firm for frame-by-frame digitization.

Audio files are edited on Adobe Audition.

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This is a work in progress. Material is added as time allows. There are gaps and omissions, for which I apologize. I hope to correct these shortcomings in the future. Although there are many of thousands of pages (and nearly as many photos) on the website there is still a huge amount yet to be added.

Any additions, corrections or contributions from website visitors are most welcome.

Feel free to contact the website with questions, criticism or contributions: wildturnip@gmail.com