Ashley Geis knew she wanted to race jetboats in whitewater when she was 4 or 5.
“I told my dad, as soon as I get old enough, I want to race,” she said. “That’s the one thing that I want. Right when I turned 15, we started looking for boats.”
Ashley, 17, will serve as the navigator for her dad, Adam Geis, in the World Championship Marathon Jet Boat Race later this month in North Idaho. The navigator reads the gauges, plots the course along the river and provides other support to the driver, who doesn’t have time to do anything but drive at 100 mph.
The family lives in Meridian.
“I promised her a few years ago when she got old enough, I’d (race) again,” said Adam, a former sprint-boat driver on closed courses and jetboat navigator. “It came along a lot quicker than we thought. A lot of good friends are helping us. We finally hit our 21-year goal this weekend of triple digits. It was so cool.”
Adam’s dad also raced boats. Adam’s sprint-boat navigator was Ashley’s mom, Kim.
Still, the father-daughter duo is a racing dynamic unlike anything the family has experienced.
“It’s really wonderful,” Adam said, “but it’s scary at the same time.”
The World Championship is May 20-29. It covers 545 miles across four rivers in nine days. One leg is a three-lap race on a 15-mile course with side-by-side racing.
Ashley has studied Google Earth to help her learn the rivers.
“She’s got a lot on her plate — a lot of work,” Adam said. “I get the fun part, to man the gas and steer. ... She’s got a lot more pressure than I do, to be honest.”
Ashley has been boating since she was 6 months old. She’s driven most of the family boats (but not this one) and calls the Snake River through Hells Canyon “my favorite place in the world.” The family attends the jetboat races in Riggins every year. The junior at Meridian Medical Arts Charter High dreams of building boats for a living.
“It’s just everything to me,” Ashley said of boating. “I love it so much.”
She helped her dad build the boat they’ll race. Eventually, she wants to move into the driver’s seat.
“Of course, it’s nerve-racking, but it is so exciting,” she said of her upcoming racing debut. “No matter what happens, it’s going to be a great memory.”