Covington's Shane, U-6 Oberto capture Columbia Cup | Hydros

Jamie Nilsen blows over in the U-21 Lakeridge Paving during heat race action Sunday on the Columbia River. The driver wasn
Jamie Nilsen blows over in the U-21 Lakeridge Paving during heat race action Sunday on the Columbia River. The driver wasn't hurt, the boat was damaged.
— image credit: Courtesy photo/Owen Blauman, copyright 2014

For the Reporter

Covington's Jimmy Shane drove a damaged and patched unlimited hydroplane to victory in the HAPO Columbia Cup in Kennewick on Sunday.

Shane, defending national high-point champion, was quick to praise his crew for making a temporary fix on a hole in the left sponson of the U-6 Oberto that looked to be beyond repair.

"And you have to include Scott Raney and the guys from the (U-11) Peters and May (team)," Shane said of the group effort. "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."

Jon Zimmerman, who won two preliminaries in the Kent-based U-9 Les Schwab Tires-Team RedDOT, finished second in the final. Third on the water went to Cal Phipps in the U-7 Graham Trucking, but a one-lap penalty took him off the podium and Kip Brown was scored third in the new U-96 Spirit of Qatar.

After incurring two minutes in penalties, Tom Thompson was scored fifth behind Phipps.

Shane 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."

Bonney Lake's J. Michael Kelly in the U-1 Graham Trucking and Dave Villwock in the U-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 U-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 officials who viewed 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 U-21 Lakeridge Paving as he followed the leaders through turn 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 Albert Lee Cup at Seafair on Lake Washington. Qualifying begins this Friday, with racing Saturday and Sunday.

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