The H1 Unlimiteds hydroplane season starts Friday when 12 boats begin qualifying in Indiana at the Madison Regatta.
The 12 boats at Madison are the most at that race site since 1989.
But if you're a driver looking to win the high points championship this season, you better be careful doing it because there are only five races in 2010.
That's right. Five.
The stops are Madison, Detroit, Tri-Cities, Seattle and Doha, Qatar.
Evansville, Ind. -- a tour regular since 1979 -- was dropped this season after San Diego bowed out in 2009.
So with just five races, there will be little room for mistakes.
"There's a depth of competition," Steve David, the defending season champion who drives the U-1 Oh Boy! Oberto, said in a Monday teleconference. "Last year (U-96 Spirit of Qatar driver) Dave (Villwock) and I were certainly the top two, but this year there are eight boats who could win any race. If there's a hiccup, there could be a couple more. It'll be a very challenging season."
David figures there are only 22 heat races for the entire season.
"There can be no screwups and everything is a final," he said.
Because of that, it'll be important to get off to a good start at Madison.
"If you have a bad weekend, yeah, it'll be tough (to win the season title)," said David. "There are four heats at Madison. That's almost 20 percent of the year's total. (Villwock) and me, and (U-5 Formulaboats.com driver Jeff) Bernard, showed everyone in Doha last year that you can go from hero to zero on any given weekend."
But if there are any favorites this season, it still has to be the old guard. David and Villwock were 1-2 in the standings last season.
Along with 63-year-old driver Ken Muscatel, David (55) and Villwock (53) are the wily veterans of the unlimited drivers group who do battle with the up-and-coming 20- and 30-somethings in the sport.
"It's fun beating on the younger guys," said Villwock. "(Steve and I) are still competitive. And because you hardly get to practice in these boats, it's far more difficult for a younger fellow to learn the things he should to be competitive.
"It's difficult for young guys to get started in this," Villwock continued. "It's difficult for them to get track time. Experience in this sport means a lot."
NOTES: Villwock's U-96 was the U-16 Ellstrom's Elam Plus. But Sheikh Hassan bin-Jabor Al Thani, the president of the Qatar Marine Sports Federation who brought the hydro fleet to Qatar last year, has decided to sponsor the boat this season. ... The U-13 Spirit of Detroit is back after a year's absence. Owner Dave Bartush has elected to run the whole circuit. Cal Phipps will be the driver. ... JW Myers will be the driver of the U-37 Miss Peters & May, owned by Billy and Jane Schumacher. Myers replaced driver Jean Theoret last season for a few races after Theoret almost drowned in a flip last year at Madison. The Schumachers hired Myers to run the full circuit this season.
H1 Unlimited season
Friday-Sunday: Madison Regatta, Madison, Ind.
July 9-11: APBA Gold Cup, Detroit
July 23-25: Lamb Weston Columbia Cup, Tri-Cities
Aug. 6-8: Seafair, Seattle
Nov. 18-20: Oryx Cup, Doha, Qatar