Yukon 800 Race
Home FAQ Fairbanks History Site Contents
Up ] 



Bishop Cruises in Yukon 800

(Reprinted from the June 26, 2000
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner)

Sports Editor

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 rivers.

"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 16:33:37.

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 River.

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 Sunday evening.

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 Sunday morning.

"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 way back."

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 (river) crossings."

"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 Fairbanks.

"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 part."

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 cavitation problems."

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 ride home.

"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 Company, Inc.


Back to Top

For questions regarding this site, or for site updates, please e-mail our webmaster at "thewebmaster" @ "fairbanks-alaska.com" after first removing the spaces and quote marks. See the FAQ for info on advertising on this site. This site of information is provided & Copyright©1998-2015 by Aurora WebMasters, all rights reserved. This page last modified: Saturday, December 20, 2014.

Site built and maintained by Aurora Webmasters, member of The HTML Writers Guild Certified and experienced in securing high ranking keywords on search engines. Certified in Search Engine Positioning