Columbia Cup Preview and Three 2 Think About
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Following the short east coast swing to Madison and Detroit, the H1 Unlimited fleet points west to Tri-Cities, Washington for the HAPO Columbia Cup. For many teams with homeports in the Evergreen State, this weekend begins a two-week stint of intense racing action in front of friends, family, and sponsors with local pride and bragging rights very much at stake. Adding to the intrigue of the great State of Washington races is the addition of several race teams to the H1 fleet. Most notable is the return of the previously-retired Dave Villwock in the U-37 Beacon Plumbing and the addition of a brand-new boat in the Ellstrom’s U-96 Spirit of Qatar driven by Kip Brown. If that wasn’t enough, the U-17 with Jeff Bernard at the controls, the U-100 with David Warren, and the U-18 with Kelly Stocklin will also join the fray. Want even more? The U-9 is also on schedule to return to the action following a violent blower incident suffered at the Gold Cup just a couple weeks ago.
There are so many intriguing story lines related to the upcoming race that this race may be the most anticipated in several years. With the addition of the aforementioned entries to the small-but-speedy fleet that raced in the east (led by the U-6 Oberto, U-1 Graham Trucking, and U-7 Graham Trucking II) competition will be at new heights. In addition, a developing sub-plot has been unfolding in which the current H1 leadership has been called into question for potential misdealings regarding the cancelled Diamond Cup race in Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho. After the smoke finally clears in TC following this wild west shoot-out, it’s anyone’s guess who will be left standing.
Back in The Saddle Again: The retired and record holding Dave Villwock returns to the cockpit of an unlimited hydroplane for the first time since the 2012 season. He will sit at the controls of the Schumaker’s U-37 Beacon Plumbing which he has worked on last season and this past off-season as a consultant. It is believed that Villwock will be instructed to run conservatively in order to dial in boat ride and prepare it for a pending sale to Beacon Plumbing owner Bill Cahill, however, conservative is not necessarily a word Villwock is familiar with.
New Boat, New Ride: When Kip Brown was hired by the Ellstroms to drive their brand-new U-96 race boat, it came as a surprise to many who had penciled in Jeff Bernard as the chauffeur-in-waiting. However, last year’s arrangement with the U-95 (AKA U-17) team assuming the Qatar sponsorship paid dividends for Brown as he made a significant impact on the decision-makers within Camp Ellstrom. His Gold Cup victory didn’t hurt his chances either. Expect some teething with the new boat but don’t be surprised if Kip, the Ellstroms and new crew chief Mike “Boat Doctor” Hanson bring the boat up to speed rather rapidly.
Golden Boy: Jimmy Shane dominated in Detroit and proved that his ride is indeed the boat to beat this season as he captured the Gold Cup for the City Of Madison for the first time since 1971. With many new competitors joining the fleet, look for the Oberto’s route to victory to be vastly more challenging. However, the meteoric rise of this young superstar is not something the sport has seen since perhaps the great Chip Hanauer was behind the wheel.
Posted on: Jul 22 2014 08:50 PM UTC Edited on: Jul 22 2014 08:53 PM UTC