Paul Kitagaki Jr. / pkitagaki@sacbee.com

H1 Unlimited officials pulled the plug on holding local hydroplane races this year. Pictured is the final race during the Big Wake Weekend at Folsom Lake on June 2, 2013 in Sacramento, Calif.

Shrunken Folsom Lake prompts hydroplane race cancellation

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014 - 8:11 am

Chalk up hydroplane races at Folsom Lake as another casualty of the 2014 drought.

H1 Unlimited officials, the people who brought the big boats back to Folsom Lake after a 46-year absence last May, pulled the plug on holding the local races this year.

H1 Chairman Sam Cole, a Sacramento resident, said it was disappointing to have to abandon the hydroplane tour’s stop at Folsom Lake this year, but there was no choice. It was not a question of Folsom Lake being too shallow.

“It is literally too small to accommodate our pit area and a two-mile race course,” Cole said in a news release. “But we will continue our planning and hope for better conditions for a return in 2015.”

Last year’s event coincided with a three-day party and picnic on the shores of Folsom Lake billed as “Big Wake Weekend.” For 2014, Big Wake Weekend will be staged on the south shore of Camp Far West Lake near Lincoln on May 30 to June 1, organizers said in a news release.

The hydroplane races in 2013 featured boats reaching speeds nearing 200 mph. The event was won by veteran driver Steve David of Lighthouse Point, Fla.

The futuristic hulls of the sleek boats are powered by turbines typically found in Chinook helicopters. The boats are called hydroplanes because at full speed the racing vessels travel on a cushion of air trapped between the bottom of the boat and sponsons mounted on the sides at the front of the boat.

The sponsons and the three-bladed propeller are all that make contact with the water as the boats create 40-foot rooster tails at more than 200 mph on the straightaways.

“We want to thank the Sacramento area sponsors, media and fans for the tremendous welcome back we got last season,” said Cole. “We will continue the effort to return again when conditions allow.”


Call The Bee’s Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.

Read more articles by Bill Lindelof



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