Scores of spectators flocked to Vancouver’s Columbia River shoreline on Friday to watch some of the world’s fastest boats.
Four Unlimited Hydroplane teams held a practice exhibition, racing around a 2-mile oval course at speeds approaching 150 mph. It’s the first time the boats have raced in Vancouver since a similar exhibition in 1979.
Though the session was initially delayed due to strong river currents that required course adjustments, fans were thrilled when Dave Villwock’s U40 Bucket List Racing boat hit the water at 11:30 a.m.
Villwock is the sport’s winningest driver with 67 Unlimited Hydroplane victories. His boat kicked up a large rooster tail as it sped past fans watching along Vancouver’s Waterfront Renaissance Trail upstream of the Interstate 5 Bridge.
Villwock’s and three other teams used Friday’s session to prepare for the upcoming season, which starts in late June in Alabama.
The Unlimited Hydroplane series will be in the Tri-Cities July 29-31 and in Seattle Aug. 5-7.
Event Director Nelson Holmberg hopes Friday’s exhibition, and the spectator turnout which numbered well over 1,000, can build momentum for Vancouver to host an Unlimited Hydroplane race in the future.