Columns & Blogs

Covering the Columbia Cup contines to float my boat

KENNEWICK -- It’s that time again: the boat races.

This week, the annual Lamb Weston Columbia Cup takes place on the ColumbiaRiver.

The shoreline will be filled with a number of Mid-Columbians and people fromout of town.

A number of Tri-Citians also use race weekend to get out of town because they can’t stand the event. I used to be one of those.

I remember when I was a 7-year-old, my Dad took us kids down to the Pascoside of the river to watch a heat race at the very first event. It was wellover 100 degrees, and we didn’t last long.

That was it for my Dad, and for us.

When I was 12, my Little League coach came by our house the morning of theraces and made me go with him and his wife. I thought it was pretty cool,but still too hot to sit in the sun all day.

I didn’t go again until the early 1980s, when, as a student at WSU and thenEastern Washington University, I’d join all the other college kids home forthe summer on the Pasco side. It was always a blast.

But for the last 21 years, I’ve covered the races for the paper.

It’s the only time of the year I’ll openly talk about N2 violations andcowlings and enclosed cockpits.

What’s made it fun for me is getting to know the personalities.

It's seeing Ed Cooper working on his U-3 piston-powered boat in Lampson Pits and resuming a conversation we had together the year before.

It's asking Steve David, the driver of the U-1 Oh Boy! Oberto, a question and then standing back and letting him spew out witty responses.

It's listening to Dave Villwock, the winningest active driver, talk about his boat, his driving, the sport, or heck, even his love for flying remotecontrol airplanes.

Then’s there’s the crew from the Herald's online department -- Andy Perdue, Eric Degerman, JeanieJensen and Bethany Lee -- and the whole lineup of our photographers. There’s acertain camaraderie there when you spent time together at an event thatstarts early Friday morning and doesn’t end until Sunday night.

And when I get the chance, Herald senior photographer Paul T. Erickson and I will takea walk up the shoreline so I can get my picture taken with the numerouscharacters and fans at the event.

It might be with a guy in a viking helmet, someone with a great T-shirt orthe Patron Tequila girls.

We’ve started a pretty good collection.

Beginning Monday, we’ll start advancing the event, then move into the parkon Friday for wall-to-wall coverage as we’ve done for the past 44 years.

And if you see Paul and me, smile.