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More than a hobby, a family tradition

Boat racing runs in Weber family

POSTED: July 20, 2008 5:03 a.m.
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Alexis Weber, 17, who will be a senior at Dawson County High School this fall, is shown getting ready for the Bayside Thunder boating race in Walled Lake, Michigan on June 15 with her father, Mike Weber, who is a professional boat racer.

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Alexis Weber, 17, a senior at Dawson County High School this fall, won first place in the Bayside Thunder boating race in Walled Lake, Mich. on June 15.

Weber, a fourth generation boat racer, took home a trophy and $500 in prize money. She cruised across the finish line in her hot pink and teal race boat, which she named Flirting With Disaster.

This victory was especially rewarding for Weber because her big win fell on Father's Day weekend.

"To think that the very first race I've ever won was on Father's Day. It was the perfect opportunity to dedicate my win to my dad," said Weber.

Mike Weber, Alexis Weber's father is proud to have his daughter following in his footsteps. He was overcome with joy when his daughter won her first race on June 15. 

"You cannot imagine how proud I am. It's a day I'll never forget," he said. "She doesn't want anything handed to her, she wants to earn it and that made her victory all the more special," he added.

The Weber family has a 53 year history of boat racing, stemming back to Ray Weber, Alexis Weber's grandfather. Mike Weber has raced for 31 years and Alexis has raced for three years. She started when she was just 14 years old.

Alexis Weber had two boating accidents in 2007, one in which she flipped her boat over. She sustained no injuries, but was badly shaken up. But this did not stop her. She was determined to get back in that boat and try again.

"The biggest lesson I've learned is patience. It's easy to get discouraged after two accidents and nearly three years without a first place win," said Weber.

Although boat racing is prevalent in Alexis Weber's immediate and extended family, she is the first woman in her family to take on the sport.

"For me it has nothing to do with being a girl and wanting to stand out as a girl. I want to be known as a great racer, not a great girl racer," said Weber.

Her father agrees.

"They're all just racers, not boy racers or girl racers," said Mike Weber.

"Although, to strap my little girl into a race boat can be a little nerve racking, but it's something she wants to do. I would never want her to look back and regret not trying it," he added.

Boat racing is a treasured Weber family tradition that has become a defining aspect of their identity.

"It's really a way of life. It's something we have always done. We love the travel and have made great friends all across the country," said Mike Weber.

Alexis Weber feels the same way.

"I grew up around racing. In fact, I was born at a boat race, so it's in my blood. I love boats and I love speed," she said. "I hope to one day pass this tradition onto my children so they can be a part of it, too."

Alexis Weber participates in between 12 and 15 races a year. Unfortunately, none of them are local. 

"We travel quite a bit. We are probably the only racers that live this far south," said Weber. "The closest race we've ever been a part of was in Morgan City, La., and that's 8 hours away."

Most of the races take place in Louisiana, Michigan and states along the east coast. The Weber's have also traveled as far as Seattle to participate in boat races.

Weber was scheduled to participate in her first out of the country race over the July 4 weekend in Quebec. Results of that race were not available as of press time. 

After Weber graduates from Dawson County High school next year, she plans to study at the University of Georgia, taking on a double major in marketing and Spanish.

"I don't want to make a career out of racing, but I do want to keep doing it on the side because it's such a special family tradition," she said.

"As far as she wants to take it, we'll support her," said Mike Weber.

 

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