Saturday, July 20, began as a typical, gray overcast morning in Long Beach; however, nothing was typical about the roar of 69 boats, mostly twin-engine, open-ocean race boats, leaving the shores on a round-trip adventure to Catalina Island and back.
Following each boat, attached to a 200-foot-long line, highly competitive water skiers navigated the rough sea on a timed, 63.7-mile race. Included in that field of racers were Oak Ridge High School senior Dustin Diel and his sophomore brother Dallas Diel who continued the family tradition of competing in the 65th annual International Open-Ocean Water Ski Competition. Their family has taken many trophies in the Catalina Ski Race throughout the years. Grandpa, Jeff Sornborger brought home a trophy in 1963 after racing in a boat and using a ski, both built with his own hands. The boy’s twin cousins, Dr. Brent Porteous and Dr. Garrett Porteous, still hold the race’s Best-Time Record in the 1998 Jr. Double-Up category.
This year eyes were on skier Dallas, 15; navigator Dustin, 17; observer/dad Bob Diel and driver/uncle Dr. Leeland Porteous. Family and friends, including the Diel brothers’ childhood soccer/baseball coaches from El Dorado Hills — George Macchia and Jeff Savage, plus their families — came to support the ORHS students. Their aunt Cyndi and uncle Tim Dietler from Elk Grove attended for photo/press coverage.
One hour and 50 minutes after passing through the Queen’s Gate in Long Beach Harbor, the Diel brothers crossed the Queen Mary finish line as the only Americans to complete the race in the Junior Boys category.