Tri-Cities Independent
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JULY 23-25 

For More Information Contact:

Emily Janikowski (509) 783-4675 or cell (509) 366-2967 

For Immediate Release:                                                                                                     July 6, 2004

Water Follies declares independence

Organizers of the July 23-25 Budweiser Columbia Cup have elected to host race independent of Hydro Prop, the sanctioning body for Unlimited hydroplanes.

At a meeting Tuesday night, the 19 members present of the 26-member Tri-City Water Follies Association Board of Directors voted unanimously to turn down a counteroffer proposed earlier in the day by Hydro Prop. Hydro Prop rejected the Water Follies original offer to pay a full fee for a minimum of 10 Unlimited hydroplanes, including the fan-favorite U-3, with a reduction in the fee should less than 10 boats race. The Water Follies honored a request by Hydro Prop not to disclose the terms of their counter offer, however stated the two organizations were clearly too far apart to foresee reaching an acceptable agreement in the critical planning days left before the July 23-25 event.

Event Director Emily Janikowski said many factors played a role in the Board’s decision, including an estimated savings of $30,000 for the non-profit association, an increase in the competitive racing by having the U-3 boat challenging the so far dominant U-1 Miss Budweiser, the positive and exciting atmosphere that was obvious at the Evansville race, and the desire to improve the long-term health of the sport.

While Hydro Prop has traditionally split $90,000 equally amongst the boats that race at each event, the Tri-Cities has allocated $105,000 in an effort to help teams improve their boats and build their racing programs. There has been a decline in the number of race-ready boats over the last several years, of which some people attribute to lack of funding. In the first race in 1966, the Water Follies hosted 10 boats on the Columbia River.  Last year 11 boats qualified here. “This year we were faced with the possibility of hosting fewer boats but paying the same full rate,” Janikowski said.  “We want to help get the sport back on the right track and see working directly with the boat teams as a way to do that. We’re not ready to give up on Unlimited hydroplane racing as the featured attraction of our community event.”

In the wake of announcements by Evansville, Ind. and San Diego to break away from Hydro Prop, Tri-City Water Follies officials started developing a contingency plan should Hydro Prop not provide the infrastructure necessary to host the boat class in the Tri-Cities.  The Unlimited Lights Hydroplane Racing Association has agreed to provide the buoys, clock, officials and other resources necessary to host a safe and exciting Unlimited race, and trained volunteers that provided services prior to Hydro Prop’s buyout of the sport in 2000 will return.

            50,000 fans are expected to converge on the Columbia River July 23-25 for the Budweiser Columbia Cup and Robert Young Apartments & Suites Over-the-River Airshow, considered Eastern Washington’s largest weekend event.  This is the 39th year of Unlimited hydroplane racing on the Columbia River.  Unlimited Light hydroplanes, vintage race boats restored by Seattle’s Hydroplane & Raceboat Museum and professional hydrofoilers will also be on the water.  For more information contact the Tri-City Water Follies, the non-profit organization charged with hosting the event, at (509) 783-4675 or

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