Local Banker Falls For Sprint Boat Racing

Aug 26, 2014

photo by Becky Shock

Kathy Frey Lightner might look like a mild-mannered bank auditor for Southern Bank by day, but last weekend she turned into a navigator for jet sprint boat racer Kyle Patrick.

“I heard there were some racers who were unable to bring their normal navigators with them for this race, and they were looking for local people to act as navigators.

She explained, “The job description was basically someone who weighed 120-125 pounds and wasn’t afraid!”

She and five other people decided to answer that call to what some people might consider madness.

Kathy Frey Lightner, strapped in for the race, with 6-year-old daughter, Addison, ready to cheer her mother on.

Kathy Frey Lightner, strapped in for the race, with 6-year-old daughter, Addison, ready to cheer her mother on.

Every racing team is made up of a driver and a navigator. The navigator is extremely important, because basically, it is very difficult for the driver to both drive and process information about the course given the speeds of up to 100 mph. The navigator basically uses their left arm to signal to the driver upcoming turns.

“I had a blast!” exclaimed Lightner. She says though she holds a black belt in taekwondo, she has never considered herself an adrenaline junkie.

But one ride, and that has changed.

“I’ve never felt anything like it,” she said. She realizes now she is hooked. She is already thinking about going to the last leg of the Sprint Boat World Series in Oregon in two weeks.

Normally Kyle Patrick has one of his daughters as a navigator, but if Lightner makes it to the race, Kyle may let her navigate again.

“I had such an awesome time, not just in the race, but in meeting so many people from New Zealand, Australia and Canada,” she explained.

The 33-year-old bank auditor has a six-year old daughter, Addison, who was thrilled to see her mother in the races.

Patrick’s boat was eliminated after making the Top 12 because of mechanical problems, but the two got to run several times Friday evening through Sunday.

“It was one of the craziest, most awesome things I have ever done in my life,” said Lightner.

She said she did indeed feel a little like Clark Kent turning into Superman.

“It’s not every day that a girl with an MBA becomes a racing boat addict,” she admitted.

She says when the boat races return to Brick’s, she will be the first to sign up as a navigator.

“I’m already online now looking for tickets to the last leg of the series in Oregon!” she said.

She admitted it was a little unnerving to see a couple of the boats crash, but she also saw first hand how important the safety equipment is.

“I know how tightly we are strapped in,” she said, and basically she said, you have to trust the skills of your driver. She said she felt very fortunate to be navigating for Patrick. “He is a very good driver,” she said.

For those who didn’t make it to see the races this past weekend, she says don’t miss it next time. For her, it was the experience of a lifetime.

“I am so glad I did it. And now I just want to do it again, and again,” she said.

…another sprint boat addict is born.