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U-16 Elam Plus sells naming rights to sheikh

SEATTLE -- The U-16 Ellstrom's Elam Plus is no more.

Gone is the orange day-glo paint job too.

Instead, the boat will race the 2010 H1 Unlimited season as the U-96 Spirit of Qatar, and it will be red, white and blue.

Team manager Erick Ellstrom and Sheikh Hassan bin-Jabor Al Thani, president of the Qatar Marine Sports Federation, are combining forces.

"We at QMSF have always been looking to be involved in almost all forms of power boat racing, and the Unlimited Hydroplanes are no different," said Sheikh Hassan in a press release. "After the great show the H1 teams put on for us in November of last year, we looked to partner with a team that can represent Qatar through QMSF and the Ellstrom team was selected."

5 Axis Industries and Marine Technology, owner of the race team, are owned by Erick and Sven Ellstrom, founder of Ellstrom Manufacturing.

5 Axis supplies propellers to many teams in offshore and other forms of boat racing, including Sheikh Hassan's Spirit of Qatar 95 & 96 team which is currently competing in the Offshore Performance Association (OPA) series in the United States.

The Ellstroms entered unlimited hydroplane racing in 1994 as sponsors of an experimental 4-point Unlimited.

In 1995, they built their own conventional turbine-powered unlimited and were on the way to becoming one of the most successful teams in the history of the sport, scoring the first of 20 victories in the 2000 season in the Tri-Cities with Mark Evans driving.

The current hull was christened in 2001 and holds the qualifying record on every existing race course.

The team won the 2005 and 2007 national championships and the 2007 and 2009 Gold Cups with current driver Dave Villwock in the cockpit.

Villwock is the winningest active driver in the H1 Unlimited series with 59 career victories, including 15 in the U-16.

-- Jarvis Property Restoration has jumped on board as one of the main sponsors of the Detroit Gold Cup.

That's good, since there was a time earlier this year that race officials were thinking of not running the race due to financial problems.

The Detroit Gold Cup is set for July 9-11 -- moved back to its original date from the June 25-27 dates originally announced.

-- The season begins July 2-4 in Madision, Ind., with the Madison Regatta. That'll be followed by the Detroit Gold Cup.

The Lamb Weston Columbia Cup will be held here in the Tri-Cities on July 23-25.

Seafair in Seattle will be held Aug. 6-8; and the season ends Nov. 18-20 in Doha, Qatar, with the Oryx Cup UIM World Championship.

-- Dr. Ken Muscatel will definitely share time in the cockpit of his U-25 this season.

Jon Zimmerman, who holds records in 5-litre boats, will drive the U-25 in both Madison and in some of the heats in the Tri-Cities.

Muscatel, meanwhile, will drive in Detroit, Seattle and in some of the Tri-City heats.

The U-25 and the U-21 Miss Albert Lee both tested on Lake Washington a few weeks ago. Both teams were in the Tri-Cities in early May, testing on the Columbia River.

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