HISTORY MAKING: The U-1 Miss HomeStreet/Miss Madison pulls away from the U-9 Delta/Realtrac in the Indiana Governor’s Cup final heat Sunday. (Courier file photo by Mark Campbell)
HISTORY MAKING: The U-1 Miss HomeStreet/Miss Madison pulls away from the U-9 Delta/Realtrac in the Indiana Governor’s Cup final heat Sunday. (Courier file photo by Mark Campbell)
To say that its has been a frustrating start to the season for the Miss HomeStreet/Miss Madison team is an understatement. A pair of fuel violations during the season opener left the team sitting in third place in the National High Points standings and a near wreck in the third heat at Madison last Sunday nearly ruined the team’s weekend.

But all of those worries were relieved in one five-lap sequence when Jimmy Shane nailed the start of the final heat, steered the HomeStreet through the first turn and ran away for the easy Indiana Governor’s Cup win on the team’s home waters.

“Jimmy made the most amazing start I think I’ve ever seen,” HomeStreet crew chief Cindy Shirley said. “He was moving forward at the start and that’s what you want to be doing. So many people are dragging back but he just hit it dead-on.”

The win was the 31st in the long history of the Miss Madison team — including their sixth on their home waters — and the 17th of Shane’s career, but it also marked the first for Shirley in her role as crew chief and the first-ever for a woman in that role in the sport’s history.

Nobody felt that early-season frustration more than Shirley, who knew all eyes would be on her this season. Not only was she making history, but she had the added responsibility of replacing the popular — and successful — Dan Hoover, who died in February.

Her debut didn’t go well. A fuel violation erased the team’s top qualifying speed at Guntersville Lake and a flagrant fuel violation led to a disqualification in her first-ever heat as chief.

The team regrouped to win the next two preliminary heats but Shane was edged in the final by Andrew Tate and the U-9 Delta/Realtrac, who used a perfect weekend in Alabama to jump out to a nice season points lead on the defending champs.

Shane picked up a pair of preliminary heat wins to open the Madison race — including a victory over Tate — but an incident in Heat 3A, when Shane caught Tate’s roostertail, nearly led to the HomeStreet going over. Entering the final heat it was a question of whether the team could make up the distance on the Delta/Realtrac group.

But Shane did what he has done so many times before and just like that, the frustration melted away.

“We stand on the dock and think, ‘Why do we do this?’” Shirley said with a laugh. “And then when you win, you’re like ‘Oh, that’s right. That’s why we do this.’”

“This is just wonderful for Cindy, especially with the history she has not only with this race team, but this city,” said Shane of his crew chief who grew up in Louisville and has attended the Regatta since she was a kid. “It just a wonderful feeling to win any one of these races but it probably means even that more to Cindy. I’m happy for Cindy and I’m ecstatic that she gave me the setup she did in the final heat and we pulled it off.”

With the first win of the season in the books and the early-season issues seemingly behind them, the team’s focus now turns toward its new boat, which is nearing completion in Seattle.

The new boat, which started life as the Miss Budweiser T-7 hull, is finished and was set to be painted this past weekend. The team left Madison Monday morning to race back to Seattle to finish installing the hardware and electrical systems.

Shirley said the plan is to have the new boat ready to go at the next race in the Tri-Cities, Washington on July 27-29 where it will hit the water for the first time. But she was quick to dampen any expectations that it will enter the race.

“As far as we’re concerned it has to earn its starting spot,” Shirley said. “We’re going to test it and we want to shake it down and we’ll make the decision on which (boat) we think is better. But this current boat is a champion and we’ve had a lot of success with it at Tri-Cities. We’re in a points race and we’re going to do what is best for the team.”