Jul 232010

U-13 Spirit of Detroit

On my way over the Blue Bridge Thursday afternoon I noticed a bunch of bright colors down along the Columbia River where the hydroplanes stage for their races. I swung down into Columbia Park hoping I would be able to get into the pit area where just yesterday there were only big blue cranes.

Sure enough, I found some boats! Quite a few of the Hydroplanes were being cleaned and prepped for the race weekend. Starting tomorrow one would need a pit pass to get into this area and even then I don’t think they would let you get as close as I was able to do today.

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Jul 222010

UL-929 - Miss Ice Harbor

Ice Harbor Brewing is sponsoring the “All Black, All the Time” UL-929 Unlimited Light hydroplane for the 2010 Columbia Cup. The UL-929 is owned and driven by hometown driver Vince “X-Man” Xaudaro, a 1985 graduate of Kamiakin HS. We got to see the Miss Ice Harbor up close and personal when it made a showing at the Marina (and we had a great lunch while we were there).

This will be the first time the boat has been on the water since it was severely damaged in an accident three years ago in at Silver Thunder in Silverdale, WA. According to the UL-929 Racing website, “in the final heat the hydroplane launched off a roller in turn 2 of the first lap and literally stuffed the nose re-entering the water. Both sponsons disintegrated on contact and were ripped off the hull.” The website has some before and after pictures and it is pretty amazing to see the boat stripped down to the hull.

Also, check out the web site for a great story on why Vince chose the ‘929’ in UL-929 as a tribute to his father.

Good Luck Vince! Nice to have a local boat we can cheer on.

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Jul 222010

[flickr float=”right”]4821164132[/flickr] I saw a KVEW announcement that the vintage 1955 Miss Thriftway would be on display at the TV station from 5:30 to 7:00 am, during the local Good Morning Northwest (GMNW) program. That is a time of day I usually do not see but made a point of getting up and out the door early. I watched Kevin Uretsky interview Steve Compton, one of the boat owners during a couple of segments ( 1, 2, 3 ). GMNW co-anchor Crystal Costa and GMNW weather anchor Jason Valentine also shot a couple segments with the hydroplane as their backdrop.

I talked with members of the crew who were very friendly, explaining the history of the boat and the work that went into rebuilding the Miss Thriftway from scratch. The original Miss Thriftway was completely destroyed when it hit a wake at high speed in the 1957 Governor’s Cup on the Ohio River race at Madison, Ind. The Miss Thriftway web site tells the story of the boats rebirth.

But the best part of the day was when all the TV filming was done and I asked if I could have my picture taken sitting in the cockpit of this vintage machine. Made my day! Thanks KVEW and thanks to the crew of the Miss Thriftway!

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Jul 212010

[flickr float=”right”]4816491463[/flickr] Blue cranes, blue bridge, and blue sky!

The hydroplanes are just starting to rumble into town on their big trailers but preparations are being made to get the river ready for the big boats. I stopped in at the Lampson Pit area to see the large cranes that will be hauling the boats in and out of the water. If you like blue, we got blue.

I have never paid admission to watch the Water Follies. We used to watch from up on Canal Drive but the city has improved the curbing and actively discourages the practice now. Friday is free admission (if you don’t count $5 to park or $1.25 to take the bus) and I may just have to drop in during the morning to see what I have been missing.

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While I was out today I saw a plane practicing aerobatics for the airshow this weekend. Wishing I had a lens with more zoom, but with enough mega-pixels you can always crop. The plane streaming the ‘smoke’ is a high-performance Panzl S-330 from the Air National Guard’s Aerobatic Team. The other plane must be Bob Brawdy, the Tri-City Herald photographer, who got a lot of great shots. [flickr-gallery mode=”tag” tags=”WF00,airshow” tag_mode=”all”] click thumbnails to enlarge

Jul 202010

[flickr float=”right”]4814330167[/flickr]

The 45th Annual Tri-Cities Water Follies will be here this weekend. This means the hydroplanes will be showing up all over town. This evening I was out on Clover Island and noticed that the Oh Boy! Oberto was parked in the Clover Island Inn parking lot. These parking lot displays of the boats allow you to get close to the boats and I rarely get to go down to the park to watch the races so I must enjoy them dry docked on their trailers. Someday I will find someone who can get me down to the pits!

I pulled out my camera and tripod to take a few pictures in the dusky light. Well, forget the tripod, I have misplaced the shoe that attaches the camera to the tripod. Because of the low light and no tripod I had to hand hold the camera and shoot at 3200 ISO — so the photos are grainy but still look good on the computer screen.

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