I keyed on my jet boat, Straight Shot, and her growl sent shivers up my spine like it always did. I eased her out to the starting line as Sally flipped on our cameras.
The chatter of the crowd along the river was audible.
“Everything under the hood checks out?” She said, her voice muffled by her helmet even though her visor was still up.
I put a thumb up and found our place in the line of boats. Every other racer was a man paired with another man, and they all stared. One man revved his engine, and she screeched. I rolled my eyes.
“You would think we would have earned a reputation by now,” I said, looking out over the course. “All the races we’ve ended up on top? People would know we don’t mess around.”
Sally shrugged and pointed to a wind flag on the shore. I nodded that I had seen it and started thinking of the course. We’d done a dry run at dawn just to get familiar with the course. The wind had picked up, but our game plan would be no different than it always was. We’d ride the corners tight and play it hard and fast on the straight shots.
The signal flag waved for us to get ready and I focused. Sally and I both flipped down our visors, and we glanced at each other, head butting to follow our usual ritual. I kept my eyes ahead, and she watched the flagger.
“What’s a pretty lady like you doing driving a boat like that,” the man said to me.
I was checking one of the hoses on my engine that had given me issues in the past when he came up. I rolled my eyes as soon as I heard the word pretty. My wingman, Sally, was sitting on the dock, sunbathing.
“Showing all the idiot men in the world that sexism is the worst type of pickup line.”
The man lifted both eyebrows, mad, but too scared to say anything in response. He sucked his teeth, took a swig of his beer and went back the way he’d come.
“You know you’ll never find a man with that attitude,” Sally said, standing up and hopping onto the boat to grab her protective gear.
I latched the hood back on the engine and used a rag to wipe my hands. They weren’t dirty, but it was a habit I’d gotten into, so I did it anyway. I grabbed my gear as well and started putting it on as I responded.
“If that’s the type of man you think I like then I need a new wingman,” I joked. “You don’t know me at all.”
The go flag waved, and she hit my arm. I gunned it along with the rest of the racers, and the front of our boats lifted out of the water a little. I eased off the gas, so we didn’t go too high and flip.
All the racers filed in a line as we reached the bottleneck. I settled into third as we rounded the first bend. As the race buoys spread out, some racers tried to pass going wide, but I stuck tight to the corner until it was straight again.
Gunning it I splashed a wall of water onto the guy trailing me, but he burst through as if nothing had happened. The second bend came up fast. It was a right turn, and I waved to the left, spinning the wheel hard and spraying the trailers for a second. When my stern was near the buoy, I floored it again and cut clear across like we had practiced. Some of the trailers braked, thinking they would hit us.
We snuck into second place with the maneuver. We passed a line of spectators, but their cheers of approval were drowned out by the roars of all the engines. Straight Shot was fast, and I closed the distance to the lead jet boat. His wingman saw us coming and signaled the driver to start swerving to prevent us from passing. Sally told me we had two trailers looking for an opening, so I swerved along with the lead car.
An S bend was up next, and the lead car took each turn flawlessly. I followed suit, closing the gap a little more as we entered the final segment. Every course I had raced except one had ended in a drag race to the finish line, and this course was the same.
Sally signaled for me to do a trick shot, and I agreed it was our best bet to get in front. The lead boat continued to swerve, but on the straight shot his swerves were shallow, and I snuggled in close to his butt. The water he shot up hid us from view, and Sally leaned her head out the side to keep track of his positioning. If we braked, we would crash, but no driver in his right mind would break on the final leg of the race.
Putting a hand on my thigh, Sally signaled which direction he was turning, and I reacted accordingly. She timed his swerves to a rhythm and tapped the left side of my leg. I pulled the wheel left, gunned it, then pulled it back to the right.
Our boats split, and when they came back together in the middle, we were neck and neck. The driver glanced over at me every once, and a while and Sally checked our rear. She unzipped her protective gear and flashed him for a second, and he did a double take, swerving a little.
The brief opening let us pull ahead, and we zipped across the finish line in first. We eased the boat around a bend, and I threw her in neutral as we neared the dock.
“Did you have to degrade yourself like that at the end?” I said, unable to hold back the grin that worked onto my face.
“No, but it helped us wind didn’t it?”
“You’ll never find the right type of man that way,” I said, mocking her.
I shook my head and eased Straight Shot alongside the dock. Sally roped her off as the second place boat pulled in. The driver was smirking at Sally, but the wingman was yelling something about us cheating.
We ignored them both and went over to the waiting area to grab some snacks before they announced us as the winners.