Originally created 05/12/02

Duel highlights Jet Ski festival



LANGLEY - Richard Ingram and Bill Morris have been speeding past each other for a decade.

On Saturday, at Langley Pond, it was Mr. Ingram's turn.

His watercraft's top speed of 79.2 mph narrowly edged Mr. Morris' time of 78.8 mph. With the victory, Mr. Ingram was crowned King of Langley Pond at the Aiken County Spring Fling Jet Ski Fest.

"It's a local grudge," Mr. Ingram, of Augusta, said after his victory Saturday, "but we're best friends.

Their duel has gotten faster over the years. When Mr. Ingram and Mr. Morris first battled in 1992, the top speed hovered around 50 mph. The speed began to go up as both men invested more money in their watercraft, Mr. Ingram said.

"The magic number is 80 mph," he added. "You'll spend close to $10,000 to go that speed."

Mr. Morris, who was crowned King of Langley Pond last summer after being clocked at 81.3 mph, was determined to finish first. When still tied with Mr. Ingram at 78.8 mph, he gave it one more go.

He couldn't top the speed.

"I could have tore that up," Mr. Morris, donning a Harley Davidson bandanna, said in disgust. "That's how it goes."

The festival's eight events drew about 25 contestants. Racers competed on an oval track, wove in and out of floating barrels, and went head-to-head in drag races.

Steve Smith, Aiken County's special projects coordinator, tagged the event a success despite a limited turnout. He credited low attendance to a weekend race in Savannah.

"We're trying to get more local people involved," he said. Other races are scheduled for June and July.

Mark McKnight traveled from Columbia to watch his friends Joe Caffman and Lytle Prichard race. Mr. Prichard finished first and Mr. Caffman second in each of the four races they participated in.

"I can't do it. I wish I could," Mr. McKnight said. "It's just cool to watch."

Reach Josh Gelinas at (803) 279-6895 or josh.gelinas@augustachronicle.com.