Jayme Durand has been an athlete all her life. She played volleyball, basketball and softball growing up. Then she earned a softball scholarship and went through college on it.
After college, she coached softball and started a junior college program.
She achieved another athletic milestone last weekend when she became the first female ever to win a Powerboat Nationals Pro Tunnel 1 championship. It happened at HydroFest on Guntersville Lake.
“I’m just speechless,” she said the day after the victory. “I know I won, but it doesn’t seem real.”
Jayme grew up watching Powerboat Nationals races in Augusta, Georgia. A few years ago, her father Dean brought a boat home and announced his intentions to begin racing. It wasn’t long until Jayme too got a boat and started racing.
She’d been chasing the guys on the circuit for awhile and had a runner-up finish earlier this year in Knoxville. To win the championship last weekend, she passed Lee Daniel, who’d been a mentor to her and also her arch nemesis when it came to getting that first victory.
“It was something to go by him and take first,” she said.
While the racers on the Pro Tunnel 1 series are ultra-competitive, there’s also a spirit of camaraderie among the drivers. Jayme loves that aspect.
“We all help each other,” she said. “If someone has a problem, everyone will pitch in to work on the boat. It’s a big family.”
Some of the best times, Jayme said, are at the end of the day when the racers and crews are sitting around their campers grilling and talking.
She said Guntersville was a great race site and she enjoyed her time here very much. Jayme owns a gym that specializes in tailor made workouts for its members.
After racing in Guntersville Sunday afternoon, she had to drive back home Sunday evening. She arrived home at 3:30 in the morning and had to be at work by 8.
But she said it’s all worth it to get to enjoy the sport of racing.