Hydro Racing

Chairman excited about hydroplane expansion

If Sam Cole has his way, every unlimited racing team member will need to keep an active passport.

The chairman of the American Boat Racing Association is looking forward to the UIM World Championships set for November in Doha, Qatar.

It will be the first time the unlimiteds will race in the Middle East. But Cole hopes it won't be the last.

He hopes that by 2010, there will be three races in the Middle East.

"Doha, Abu Dhabi and Dubai," Cole said. "And we will have a gentlemen in Seattle who may be interested in having two races in China by May of 2010."

Pretty lofty goals, but he thinks it can happen.

A big key will be getting the approval of Sheik Hassan bin Jabor Althani, who will visit Seafair this week as an interested observer and guest of Cole's.

The Sheik is the president of the Qatar Marine Sports Federation. He also races

Class 1 boats.

His approval to holding more races in the Middle East will be important.

"And I wouldn't be surprised to see two or three Middle Eastern teams, so they can win for the Sheik," Cole said.

Cole's critics say he should be looking for more race sites in this country, where the number has dwindled to five this season.

His biggest disappointment is the loss of the San Diego race.

"We tried the last four years to help them," he said. "Still, I think we have a solid nucleus of Madison, Detroit, Tri-Cities, Seattle and Evansville.

It looked like attendance was up this year in Madison, Detroit and Tri-Cities. But he also says it's hard to find solid race sites in this country to last more than two years.

"In the United States we have a couple of problems," he said. "It's very complex to put on a race because of all the paperwork. And the capital outlay on a lake or river is expensive."

The loss of the Kelowna exhibition race, scheduled in a couple of weeks, was also a big blow to the ABRA. Still, he foresees a time when there are 11 to 13 races in a season around the world.

"We're probably looking at ultimately six or seven races in North America, and another five or six internationally," he said.

He feels the boat count is solid.

"The key was getting more than 10 boats to go east for the first time this season," Cole said. "We now have 10 solid teams."

And those 10 teams are likely all going to Qatar in October.

"They will all be going," he said. "We have a No Boat Left Behind program."

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