In just his third H1 Unlimited race, Tate became the first rookie since 1956 to win the Seafair Cup.

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Victory in Seattle eluded Mark Tate throughout his lifetime of hydroplane racing.

But decades later his son, Andrew, won the 2016 Albert Lee Appliance Cup on Sunday in historic fashion.

In just his third H1 Unlimited race, Tate became the first rookie since 1966 to win the Seafair Cup.

Racing the U-9 Sound Propeller/Les Schwab boat, the 26-year-old did not look like a rookie in the championship race, staving off three-time defending national champion Jimmy Shane in a decisive victory.

“It’s indescribable,” he said. “I’m on Cloud Nine.”

Tate had just one wish: that his father had been there to see his son accomplish what he never could. His parents were home in Michigan, preparing to move into a new home.

“They aren’t here. I sure wish they were, but they’re here in spirit,” Tate said. “They just sold their house and they’re packing up the last 20 years of their lives.”

The move is fitting, for the Tate family is beginning another new chapter in their lives, one that features the next generation of H1 Unlimited racing. Mark, a third-generation racer, passed the sport down to Andrew, who grew up around the sport and quickly learned its intricacies.

And on Sunday, Tate was able to put it all together for the first time.

“He’s had a lot of bad luck,” Shane said. “He’ll get to the final heat and something will break on the boat or something. I’m very happy for him.”

Tate established an inside position from the start, putting himself in the innermost lane during the five-minute, prerace scramble for positioning. In the final minute before the start, Shane, driving the HomeStreet Bank, cut across the infield in an attempt to cut Tate off.

He was too late. Tate was already down the straightaway, and Shane was forced into the second lane.

From there, the Les Schwab boat took over. Tate had a full rooster tail on Shane, who was in second place throughout the five-lap race, heading into the fourth lap. The HomeStreet boat began making up ground in the final two laps, cutting the deficit in half by the time Tate came around the final turn.

But, racing beyond his years, Tate held onto the lead just long enough.

“He was playing it exactly like he should’ve,” Shane said. “We gained and almost pulled up next to him coming around the final corner but he had it and I think he knew he had it.”

Tate, however, wasn’t so sure. He had spent the hours between the heat races and the championship in his team’s truck, drawing up various scenarios and working out strategy. His hope was that Shane and U5 Graham Trucking’s J. Michael Kelly would write him off.

“I was hoping [they] were going to kind of go after each other and forget about [me],” he said. “Everything kind of went our way.”

Even the field went Tate’s way. Shane and Kelly, who has won the past two Albert Lee Appliance Cups, were favored to win, but the championship round could have been different had the Oh Boy! Oberto boat, driven by Jean Theoret, qualified. Theoret, another favorite, was penalized in each of his three heat races.

Meanwhile, in a minor pre-race collision, Kelly effectively eliminated himself from the race, accruing a one-lap penalty. He finished in fourth, as Theoret, who was trailing the race, and the U-3 DiJulio boat did not finish.

That left the path open for Tate and Shane. And the rookie came out on top.

His father’s history on this course made the victory even more special.

His crew members knew it, too. After the race, one of them got Tate’s attention.

“Have you called Dad?”

Tate, who was swamped with hugs and high-fives and autograph requests, smiled and shook his head. His teammate just laughed.

“Call Dad. Right now.”