The 1st annual Lake Berryessa Polar Bear Classic Splash-In, held February 4 in Napa, California was a hit, drawing a dozen seaplanes from northern California and Nevada. In addition to the video, you can view a photo album of the event.
Ten Lake amphibians and two SeaReys flew in for the one-day event. Weather was excellent with clear skies, calm winds and temperatures that reached 65 degrees by mid-afternoon.
In the afternoon, bottle drop and spot-landing contests were held just offshore. A bright orange swim tube was set up as a marker and the winds were so light it didn’t need anchoring. SeaRey pilot Rob Lober won the bottle drop contest and Gibson Howell won the spot-landing contest. Both won gold metals they wore around their necks, though Lober bit the plastic metal and suggested perhaps it was not pure gold. Two seaplanes then recovered all of the bottles used during the contests.
The planned Polar Bear swim did not occur for lack of participants, though with water temperatures in the fifties, it wouldn’t have been a severe hardship. The Polar Bear Classic name was chosen partially as a joke. While the Splash-In was held in the dead of winter, the Napa Valley never really gets very cold, much to the benefit of wine lovers everywhere.
My friend Malcolm Taylor and I organized the event, since we felt there was a need for more Splash-Ins on the West coast and we're currently planning others for later this year. If you'd like to receive notification for this and other seaplane splash-ins in California, send me an email. Hope to see you on the water!