The winner of the 2014 HAPO Columbia Cup Championship is…the crew of the 6 Oberto. Jimmy Shane drove a badly hurt and patched boat to victory after the team put a temporary fix on a hole in the left sponson that looked to be beyond repair.
Jon Zimmerman won two prelims in the 9 Les Schwab Tires/Team RedDOT and finished second to Shane in the final. Third on the water went to Cal Phipps in the 7 Graham Trucking but a one lap penalty took him off the podium and Kip Brown was scored third in the new 96 Spirit of Qatar.
After incurring two minutes in penalties, Tom Thompson was scored fifth behind Phipps in fourth place.
Asked if the crew deserved credit for the victory, Shane replied, “Absolutely. And you have to include Scott Raney and the guys from the 11 Peters and May. They stepped right in and were a major part of the repair. It shows what a great community H1 and boat racing is and I am so happy we were able to get back on the water and win another one for the Oberto/Madison fans.”
Shane also said the repaired boat handled much differently than it had earlier in the weekend, saying, “I was fighting it more than usual but it stayed together and got us to the checkered flag.”
J. Michael Kelly in the 1 Graham Trucking and Dave Villwock in the 37 Beacon Plumbing scored preliminary heat wins before being taken out of the competition by accidents and damage.
Kelly won Heat 1A on Saturday but jumped the gun in 2A on Sunday. When he returned to the pits, the crew found structural damage and withdrew for the weekend.
Heat 2B had to be rerun following an accident involving Jeff Bernard in the 17 Our Gang Racing in the first turn of lap two. Villwock led Bernard and Zimmerman into the turn with Bernard running in lane one. In the turn, Bernard’s boat went through Zimmerman’s roostertail and got high in the air before nosing in in a violent crash. The boat was damaged but Bernard was not injured.
H1 officals viewing the helicopter footage ruled that Villwock had a legal overlap on Bernard and Zimmerman and left a racing lane for Bernard in the turn.
Then, in Heat 3B, an incident in turn two on the first lap appeared to take out two of the favorites for the Columbia Cup. Villwock and Shane ran the first lap side by side until the midpoint of turn two. Running in lane one, Villwock brushed a buoy in the turn and his boat turned right striking Shane in the Oberto.
Both boats coasted to a stop and were towed back to the pits with damage that appeared to be irreparable. But the Oberto team’s miraculous repair gave Shane new life and he made the most of it.
Disaster also forced a restart of the final heat after Jamie Nilsen blew over in the 21 Lakeridge Paving and landed upside down. Nilsen was conscious and alert following the accident and complained of a sore elbow. The boat appeared to have sustained serious damage.
The H1 Unlimited fleet has just a week to make repairs before the 2014 Albert Lee Cup at Seafair on Seattle’s Lake Washington. For several of the race teams, it’s going to be a very busy week.