There were eyes in the skies as well as on the banks of Lake Guntersville officiating the 2019 H1 Hydrofest over the weekend.
Boat racing fans crossing the busy causeway on Saturday and Sunday probably noticed a lone person sitting on the bank with a large camera watching the action. That person was a man by the name of Jared Meyer.
Meyer works as an H1 Unlimited official. He along with a large crew worked all weekend to make sure the races were conducted in a legal fashion. Meyer’s job was to watch the boats at lake level to make sure no infractions occurred.
“I’m originally from Tri-Cities, Washington, which is kind of a hub for H1 Unlimiteds,” he said. “I grew up around the sport and always wanted to work around it.”
Meyer graduated from Washington State University in 2018 with a degree in digital technology and culture with a focus in photography and videography.
“I’ve been doing this with H1 since 2016,” he said. “I went to these races in Tri-City for as long as I can remember. We would always take video each year. So, that’s pretty much how I got into doing this.”
Along with Meyer, another group of officials were using drones in the skies above Lake Guntersville. According to Meyer, helicopters were used in the past to officiate from the air.
“It’s pretty obvious how much easier it is to officiate a race with drones,” he said. “The officials at the start/finish line have a live feed of what the drones are filming. They’re able to make a call almost immediately that way.”
David Cooper piloted one of the drones over the weekend. He has a personal business out of Huntsville using drones to take pictures and video.
“I was hired by H1 and various media outlets to fly my drone during this year’s race,” he said. “I took footage for both the media and H1 this year. We also had to work with Marshall County Sheriff’s Office and medi-vacs on air space. We stayed at 400-feet above the course throughout the races.”
Cooper’s equipment is a big reason he ended up working with H1 over the weekend in Guntersville.
“The drone I use has a larger camera so I was able to give them a wide view of the track,” he said. “Drones were very useful in Guntersville especially in the corners of the track. Because the corners are so far away from the banks, they would have had to use boats to officiate, which can be difficult. “
Cooper added that a notice to airmen was issued for this year’s races. He said airplanes were asked to stay clear of the track for four nautical miles.
“It went pretty well, and we didn’t have any problems with the air space,” he said. “It definitely takes a lot of manpower to make sure these races are officiated well.”