Perkins gives celebs a run for the money

If she swings a golf club like she handles a hydroplane, the rest of the field better just get out of the way.

Hydroplane racer joins champion eater and a resurrected Roy Orbison at celebrity golf classic Friday, Saturday

If she swings a golf club like she handles a hydroplane, the rest of the field better just get out of the way.

Kayleigh Perkins, by far the youngest celebrity to tee off in the 22nd annual Wells Fargo San Juan Island Celebrity Golf Classic gets under way Friday at the San Juan Golf and Country Club, is sure to put the rest of the field to the test.

How she performs on the golf course remains to be seen, but her finesse on the water and prowess behind the wheel are without question.

“She drives the big ones,” classic coordinator Pat O’Day gushed in admiration. “She’s the second lady in the sport and a great talent too.”

The 20-year-old Black Diamond native competes in the unlimited hydroplane class. That means the 5-foot-5, 130-pound Perkins catapults across the water at speeds topping 100 mph in the 1,000-horsepower Miss Boat Electric. She collected 5,450 points in taking the 2007 title and in doing so frequently left the boys behind.

Brother Blair, a celebrity in hydroplane circles in his own right, will be at the classic to compete as well.

Now in its second decade, the classic is the island’s long-running charitable event and benefits a dozen local non-profit groups. The field sold out last year and the event raised more than $40,000.

The classic begins Friday with a celebrity reception and “horse race.” Tee time is 4 p.m. On Saturday, the “best ball” competitions start at 7 a.m. and at 12:30 p.m. Register by calling the pro shop, 378-2254.

Later, islanders can enjoy a salmon dinner by John Vejvoda and crew at the golf club. For tickets, call 378-9519. You can meet celebrities, bid on auction items and enjoy live entertainment.

Though space is limited in the competition, O’Day notes there’s no restriction on the number of spectators who would like to rub elbows with celebs or walk the course.

“Big Red, the World Champion Eater, will be here this year,” O’Day said. “He can eat more and faster than anybody in the world and he eats just about anything. He’ll do some demonstrations, and we’ve got a great surprise. Roy Orbison will be singing three or four songs.”

Also in the queue are first-year WSU football coach Paul Wulff, NFL standouts Blair Bush and Darrell Irvin; and radio personalities Jeff “The Fish” Aaron, Pat Cashman, Mike Gastineau, David Grosby and Bob Rivers. And drummer Alan White of the rock band Yes returns for his …. is anyone keeping track?

Keep an eye out for dangling participles should Seattle Times sports columnist Percy Allen and his counterpart at the P-I, Jim Moore, come to close. (Contractual obligations and a last-minute conflict will prevent Merrilee Rush from performing Saturday, O-Day acknowledged).

O’Day credits the classic’s long string of success to continued support from islanders and local businesses. Three local families, he said, became benefactors this year by contributing $15,000 to help cover the classic’s upfront expenses. San Juan Seafoods and Trident Seafoods will once again donate the fish for the salmon dinner.

And, of course, O’Day said, the classic couldn’t continue without Wells Fargo’s ongoing support.

San Juan Island Marathon Sunday

The sixth annual San Juan Island Marathon is Sunday.

The event is sanctioned by the U.S. Track Association and sponsored by King’s Market. The start and finish line is at the San Juan County Fairgrounds.