TRI-CITIES, Wash. - Dave Villwock broke Steve David's three-year grip on the Columbia Cup in a thrilling final on the Columbia River.
David won three straight Columbia Cups and was fortunate to get into the finals. He held the lead for more than two laps before Villwock caught him.
Villwock won every heat he entered, while David had to win a heat just to get into the finals.
In third place was Kip Brown in the U-17 Miss Red Dot, who won three preliminary heats. Jeff Bernard was in fourth in the U-5 Graham Trucking.
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In fifth was the 88 Degree Men, driven by J Michael Kelly, followed by the U-21 Albert Lee with Brian Perkins and U-7 Valken.com, driven by Scott Liddycoat.
Villwock had to overcome the jockeying going on on the front side before the race, as Bernard cut in front of him twice and almost washed him down.
David also almost hit Villwock in the spooling period, forcing the U-96 driver farther outside around at the east end turn of the river.
"I was a little late at the start," said Villwock. "I had a little better boat ride on the outside."
Enough that it was Villwock's 64th career victory, the most in hydroplane racing history.
"That's good huh?" said an ecstatic Erick Ellstrom, team owner and crew chief for the Qatar.
Ellstrom was mad that David had sliced through the field while setting up at the start-up bouy.
"There was no room in the corner," he said. "He had no overlap and pushed us out. So we ran him down with every bean we had."
The boat lost its cowling and snapped its wing in half, it was run so hard.
And now, the Qatar team gets to set up camp for the 2012 Lamb Weston Columbia under the tree at the east end of the pits as the defending champion.
"Our tree," said Ellstrom.