Drag Boat Champion – Shawn Dunbar

Picture this, you’re flying down the lake, wind whistling in your ears – the roar of the boat engine rumbling behind you – now add to that picture speeds of 150KM+ an hour!

Meet Shawn Dunbar, general manager of the Lakefield Battaglia Homes Jr. C Chiefs hockey team, Fleming College Multimedia Co-ordinator, speed enthusiast…and world champion!

Dunbar, an Ennismore native who now resides on beautiful Pigeon Lake, had the amazing opportunity to represent Canada and the Ontario Power Boat Racing Association in the Lake Racer division on October 2, 2021 at the Outboard Drag Racing Association World Championships in Chattanooga, Tennessee. 

Shawn is the first Canadian to podium at the event since 2004 and he says 

“It is a good feeling to represent Canada.” 

Dunbar wasn’t alone; there were 2 other Canadian teams competing, and a total of 75 boats across eight divisions. He is thrilled to be on the podium after three other attempts in past years, saying “My goal this year was to podium. You always want to win, but after finishing fourth twice, realistically my goal was to podium.” 

His trip to the championships this year consisted of seven races total, leaving him with a coveted 3rd place finish. The course was tricky this year as drivers battled rainy weather – the races were shortened up to one day of competition to avoid nasty weather rolling in. 

Dunbar’s boat is a true investment of both time and money with hours of practice and preparation devoted to fine tuning both his skill and the boat to work flawlessly as a team.

His race boat is a gnarly 300-horsepower STV River Rocket with a 19-foot tunnel hull, and when it is race ready it weighs in at around 1200 lbs.

The race is an 800 foot straight drag race – two lanes, left vs. right. As the drivers get ready to take off, the race begins with a rolling start, the drivers keep their high-powered boats at 7.5 miles per hour until they roll up to the starting barge and then it is GO time! A good race takes only 8.5 seconds and is pure adrenaline with speeds in the mid 90 miles per hour (that is 150+ kilometres per hour). This means a loss is gauged by a millisecond or two at most – this year Dunbar says he only lost by 12 feet. Now that’s a tight race!

Dunbar is thankful to be supported by the cottage country community with great neighbours, and a super supportive lake crowd who often come to their docks on Pigeon Lake to watch him practice – an event in itself. He is also grateful for his crew, he attributes much of his success to his team: mechanic Kevin Ward from Picton and Jamie and John Fuderer from Kawartha Propeller, as well as Ryan Matthews (owner of Cycle Salvage/Cat Shack), who was able to step in and accompany Dunbar to the Championships as his on-hand mechanic. 

We couldn’t be prouder to have Dunbar bring home the bronze to Canada, and we can’t wait to see what he has up his sleeve for next year! 

Congratulations Shawn Dunbar and team!