The following story and pictures were provided courtesy of Joe
and Drake Balcao.
Joe raced Keaton inboard V-drives (along with Mandella and Wright boats).
Joe was also renowned for his water skiing ability.
Please read about Joe below as dictated to his son Drake
on April 21, 2008.
The information below is to the best of Joe and Drake's memory.
On the Keaton Boat History Section, one is invited to submit "any additional information to add to or correct the information below."
Joe Balcao, my father, is mentioned on page six.
Jack Keaton is
quoted: "I talked to Joe by phone. He has a custom built hull I
built for him in 1965."
Stacked in boxes in a closet of my waterfront home are about 160
trophies I won water skiing and boat racing.
I am 86 years old and still own and operate Balcao Land Leveling, Inc. , that I started in 1956.
We started at Alcatraz Island in the San Francisco Bay, to the I-Street Bridge in Sacramento, to the Rio Vista Bridge, to the Port of Stockton, back to the Rio Vista Bridge, and finally back to the Port of Stockton in Stockton, CA.
When we were skiing in the San Francisco Bay, we traveled too close to Alcatraz Island when it was a federal penitentiary. A guard came on the loud speaker and told us to get outside the warning bouys or get shot. Charlie Risso, Jr. was the driver and Sam Toccoli was the gas boy.
Jack LaLanne, the fitnes expert, was bragging during a radio
broadcast that he was going to win a 27-mile race at Clear Lake, Lake
County, CA. Mr. Milton Lange organized races at Clear Lake for
many years. I telephoned George Besotes and he agreed to pull me
in the race. I told him to get ahead of Jack LaLanne and do not
let him pass me. George and his brother Charlie Besotes
manufactured boats in Stockton, CA. One of their most popular
boats was the Star. I owned a Besotes Star for many years, but
sold it three years ago. Jack LaLanne did not mention his defeat
on his next radio broadcast.
I enjoyed ski jumping and earned the nickname "Jumping Joe." I
regularly took home first place trophies from competitions at Pacific
Coast Championships, Clear Lake, Lake Tahoe, Donner Lake, Lodi Lake,
Lake Isabella, and Stockton's Captain Weber Days Championships (which I
helped organize), Washington, Oregon, and other locations. Early
in my career, I would ski race and then jump in my boat to drive.
STOCKTON WATER SKI CLUB:
On September 15, 1961, I established the record of 93.5 miles per hour for a gasoline-operated boat in the quarter mile drag race at the Fremont Marine Stadium.
I flipped three times racing boats. I flipped my 19-foot Mandella at Clear Lake in 1963 and that is when I met Jack Keaton. Jack spoke with me about using my damaged Mandella to make a mold for a racing hull that he wanted to build. I told him I would have to think about it.
Years earlier, Mr. Joe Mandella had allowed me to purchase one of his
boats. Mr. Mandella turned down many potential boat buyers if he
did not feel a kinship with the buyer. I felt indebted to Mr.
Mandella for selling me a boat.
Later, in the conversation, Jack Keaton stated that if I let him use the Mandella hull as a mold that he would fix my damaged Mandella and would build me a new boat from the mold to my specifications at no cost.
I agreed and received the first Keaton racing hull with a sloping
wooden deck and moveable cavitation plate allowed me to manually move
the plate by using a lever by my seat during a race to adjust for rough
water. I also received the repaired Mandella that I later sold to
Nelson Santos of Tracy, CA. No other Keaton boat possesses this
sloping wooden deck. I raced that first Keaton racing hull for
five years until I started racing a Wright hull which was a gift from
the manufacturer. I still own that first racing Keaton hull that I
flipped at Lake Berryessa, the Wright hull that I flipped at Lake
Isabella, and a 19-foot 1946 Garwood runabout.
I flipped the Keaton at Lake Berryessa on a Saturday afternoon.
The boat was not damaged, but the engine was full of water so the oil
had to be changed along with some other maintenance. Joe Bianchini,
my mechanic, and I spent all Saturday night working on the engine.
The next day, I went back to race at Lake Berryessa.
In 1966, while racing the Keaton, I was the Mid-Cal Boat Racing Association Hi-Point Winner for Unlimited Hot Boats.
In 1967, I was President of the Mid-Cal Boat Racing Association.
I visited Jack Keaton in August of 2006, and we had lunch together. He paid for lunch. Jack has always treated me well.
My over sixty year friendship with Joe Bianchini ended upon his death on August 5, 2005. Marie, his wife, died on January 2, 1996.
No one built a better racing engine than Joe Bianchini.
In 1984, at sixty-two years of age, after competing in the sport of water skiing and boat racing for thirty-eight years, I retired after almost flipping a fourth time at Lake Tahoe. I flipped three times and never received a scratch. After almost flipping a fourth time, I figured it was time to retire. When I raced, sometimes I would have three or four guys on my tail, and I would take my chances.
BALCAO PERPETUAL TROPHY:
On November 15, 2006, I was inducted into the Stockton Athletic Hall of Fame for a distinguished career in water skiing and boat racing. I also received a Certificate of Recognition from California State Legislators Michael J. Machado and Barbara S. Matthews.
Rose Morais Balcao, my first wife, died on August 28, 1987. Helen Lima Balcao, my second wife, and I were married on April 21, 1990.
We are the proud parents of seven children, eighteen grandchildren,
and four great-grandchildren.