The 2023 57th Annual Columbia Cup Hydroplane Races On The Columbia River & Water Follies July 28-30, 2023 in Kennewick's Tri-Cities WA

50th Annual Columbia Cup Hydroplane Races On The Columbia River 2015About the Annual Columbia Cup Hydroplane Races On The Columbia River | Water Follies 
The 2023 HAPO Columbia Cup will mark the 57th time Unlimited Hydroplanes have raced on the Columbia River. This year’s event, like the inaugural in 1966, will most likely have 12 Unlimiteds in attendance. But the modern Unlimited Hydroplane has very little in common with those first boats that churned the waters of the Columbia River. The hydroplanes of today are almost more plane than hydro. They are thirty-foot long; 7,000-pound wings that glide over the water with only the bare minimum of the boat making contact with the river. Powered by turbine engines capable of nearly 3,000 hp, the boats can reach straightaway speeds close to 200 miles per hour. Qualifying lap averages in the mid-160 mph range are common with the faster boats in the fleet. To put it in simpler terms, at speed, an Unlimited Hydroplane will travel more than the length of a football field in the space of a second. Celebrating 55 years of High-Speed Action on the Water and in the Air, the 55th Annual Columbia Cup Hydroplane Races On The Columbia River is happening from July 28 to 30.

Columbia Cup Tickets
The cost to attend the Water Follies varies depending on the type of package you would like to purchase.  For more information, visit

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Kennewick Lamb Weston Columbia Cup Hydroplane Races

More About The HAPO Columbia Gold Cup | History
2021 55th Annual Columbia Cup Hydroplane Races On The Columbia River & Water FolliesThe HAPO Columbia Cup is an H1 Unlimited hydroplane boat race held each July on the Columbia River in Columbia Park, Tri-Cities, Washington. The race is the main attraction of the annual Water Follies festivities. Tri-Cities has hosted a race consecutively since 1966. The Columbia River towns of Kennewick, Pasco, and Richland first climbed on the Unlimited bandwagon in 1966 with the first annual Tri-Cities Atomic Cup. There had been talk of inviting the Unlimiteds there as early as 1958. But 1966 was when it finally happened. Bill Brow was the winner that first year, driving Bernie Little's Miss Budweiser. Driver Dave Villwock and the Miss Elam Plus team won the 2006 Columbia Cup under extraordinary circumstances. Their boat "blew over" during the running of preliminary Heat 2-A. They rebounded in time to win the next two heats and the overall championship. After the race at Detroit, the home of the annual Gold Cup race, was originally canceled in 2015, the Gold Cup was moved to the Tri-Cities race, renaming the race to the Gold Cup for that year. When the Detroit race came back at the end of 2015 and into 2016, the Gold Cup returned to the city, and the Tri-Cities race returned to the "Columbia Cup" again. The race is run on a 2.5-mile oval course located in an area on the Columbia River referred to as the "McNary Pool." -Wikipedia

2021 55th Annual Columbia Cup Hydroplane Races On The Columbia River & Water FolliesAbout H1 Unlimited Hydroplane Racing
H1 Unlimited is an American Unlimited Hydroplane racing league that is sanctioned by the American Power Boat Association (APBA). Until 2009, the series was known as ABRA Unlimited Hydroplane, in turn, renamed from APBA Unlimited Hydroplane in 2004. The H1 Unlimited season typically runs from July through September, consisting of five races. A hydroplane (or hydro, or thunderboat) is a very specific type of motorboat used exclusively for racing. One of the unique characteristics about hydroplanes is that they only use the water they're on for propulsion and steering (not for flotation) - when going at full speed they are primarily held aloft by a principle of fluid dynamics known as "planing," with only a tiny fraction of their hull actually touching the water.

H1 Unlimited Hydroplane Racing History
The unlimited hydroplane racing series was founded in 1946 when the unlimited class of boats was allowed to compete following World War II and the subsequent availability of surplus aircraft engines. It had been disbanded in 1922 in favor of the newly introduced "Gold Cup Class." The world's first sanctioned unlimited hydroplane race was held 118 years ago in 1903 in Ireland at Queenstown and was very modest by later race standards. That race was won by Dorothy Levitt, driving an 11-meter (35 ft) boat, powered by a 56-kilowatt (75 hp) Napier engine, at an average speed of 31.4 km/h (19.5 mph). The boats were initially restricted to engines of a maximum of 10.24 liters (625 cu in), later increased to 12.00 liters (732 cu in). Hulls with "steps" or "shingles" on the underside were prohibited. One reason for the rule change was to end the domination of its star driver, Gar Wood, who had won five consecutive Gold Cups from 1917. One win in 1920 in his twin Liberty L-12 powered Miss America, averaged 113.317 km/h (70.412 mph) in the 48 km (30 mi) race over an 8 km (5 mi) course and set a race record that stood until 1946. 2021 55th Annual Columbia Cup Hydroplane Races on The Columbia River & Water Follies"King Gar" had entered fifteen Gold Cup heats during those pinnacle years. He finished first twelve times and second three times. Throughout the years, only two boats showed up to challenge Miss America; one of those was piloted by George Wood, Gar's younger brother, in Miss Chicago. Another reason for the rule change was to make racing more affordable. In 1929, the 725 cu in (11.88 l) Class was introduced by the Mississippi Valley Power Boat Association (MVPBA). The majority of these boats were powered by Hispano-Suiza 8 aircraft engines or Curtiss OX5s. These boats were popular in the Southern and Midwestern US but did not attract the media attention that the expensive and exotic-looking Gold Cup Class counterparts had. In 1946 after the hiatus due to the war, the MVPBA was absorbed into the APBA, and as a result, the 725s and the Gold Cups merged to become the APBA Unlimited Class.  The turbine engine was first used in competition by the U-95 "Whiz-per" in 1974, which sank that August at Seattle. The next entrant with turbine power was the Pay 'n Pak in 1980 on the Columbia River at Tri-Cities, but it flipped 2½ times in a test run prior to the Sunday heats. It was the sole turbine again the following year, but through the 1980s, the turbine gradually displaced piston power.

H1 Unlimited Hydroplane Racing Today
The H1 Unlimited (prior to the 2009 Oryx Cup, known as ABRA Unlimited (American Boat Racing Association) since 2004) class is sanctioned by APBA, its governing body in North America and UIM, its international body. Unlimited 2021 55th Annual Columbia Cup Hydroplane Races On The Columbia River & Water FolliesHydroplanes are fast boats capable of more than 320 km/h (200 mph) on the straights and running average lap speeds of 209–266 km/h (130–165 mph). They are 8.5–9.1 m (28– 30 ft) in length and weigh a minimum of 3,060 kg (6,750 lb). The modern turbine-powered unlimited hydroplane is derived from the 3-point prop-riding hydroplanes of the 1950s. These were the first boats to ride on a cushion of air trapped between "sponsons" mounted on the sides of the front of the boat, and the bottom half of the propeller, which were all that touched the water. They were called "Unlimited" because they were the only class of boat racing the APBA that had no restrictions on the displacement size of their piston engines. The designation Unlimited has stayed with the class in the turbine era, even though there are restrictions on the turbine engine and its fuel. The Lycoming T55 L7C, originally used in Chinook helicopters, is the only turbine engine currently allowed in the sport. -Wikipedia

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Great information and it sounds like guest are in for a really good time. I was surprised by how reasonably priced the admission tickets are. I spend more than that going out to the movies.

Posted by Shirley Kelly on Tuesday, July 20th, 2010 at 12:53pm

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