SEATTLE -- The new starting procedure of fighting for lanes caused its fair share of incidents all day in the unlimited heats.
In the past two years, boats were pre-assigned lanes based on qualifying speed and points earned. But this year drivers were allowed to fight for their lanes before the start.
Both drivers blamed a slow-speed collision in Heat 3A on the starting process, as the U-9 Miss VisitTri-Cities.com ran up on the U-25 Miss Procraft Windows in the trolling period before the one-minute gun.
U-9 driver Jon Zimmerman said water coming up from the front of his boat -- which happens when the hulls are going more slowly -- obscured his vision.
"It's very difficult to see what is happening going that slow," Zimmerman said, adding that "I should have never put myself in that position. There's a lot of water coming over the tips of the sponsons when you are you are going slow, and when you try to accelerate to get back on plane you lose sight, and I should have never done that."
Said U-25 driver Ken Muscatel: "I was where I wanted to be holding my lane, going 50-60 miles an hour, and Jon, poor guy, could not see anything, I'm sure, and just hit me straight from behind."
And an anticipated matchup of Dave Villwock and Steve David in Heat 3B went awry when David's boat was washed down in the milling period before the start, with water hitting the engine and putting out the flame. He got his boat re-started, but not in time to become a real factor in the race.
David said the incident was due solely to the "absurd starting process." His boat was hit by some water from another boat trolling nearby, something that happened to a few other boats throughout the day, as well.
David said if the format isn't changed "we won't have enough boats to race the final in San Diego (next month) due to the salt water."