PHOTO: Photo finish in Unlimited Light Hydroplane Firebird Season Opener - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

PHOTO: Photo finish in Unlimited Light Hydroplane Firebird Season Opener

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PHOTO: Tim Crowley

Yellow, red and blue, a kaleidoscope of color frantically tumbling out of focus. The yellow hydroplane trades places with the red hydroplane which trades places yet again with the yellow one over the blue surface of the water at speeds that are a challenge to keep in focus. The seasoned veteran in contention with the accomplished challenger.  Gregg Hopp barely held off Kayleigh Perkins at the finish line.

This duel in the Arizona sun was witnessed and rewarded by Minox Camera on the weekend of April 25th and 26th at Firebird International Raceways near Phoenix. The opening contest of the ULHRA 2009 circuit saw competitors travel from as far away as Illinois, Ohio and Washington State. The congregation of contestants represented several classes of race boats such as Unlimited Lights, Lighter-than-Lights, NACCS and Sprint Boats.

Sponsored by Trafficade and, the regatta featured for the first time an award created and supported by the Minox Camera Company with the specific intent of rewarding close and photogenic competition on the race course. Referred to as the Photo Finish Award, Minox presented a camera to the driver who prevailed over the finish line in the closest competition to their nearest competitor. Although close and fervent racing occurred all weekend, most would agree that the most contested was between the 2008 National Champion, Greg Hopp and the 2007 National Champion Kayleigh Perkins. Although Kayleigh's equipment is naturally aspirated, it has proven on numerous occasions to be a match against the supercharged steed of Greg Hopp.

In front of the Phoenix crowd, the two teams wrestled for the lead back and forth. In the words of Greg's father Jerry," This weekend the fans at Firebird Lake were treated to real racing action as the equally well prepared and competitively matchedUL-72 and UL-1 took to the water. Perkins and Hopp had one thought in mind, to be the first one across the finish line. Both drivers had the "peddle-to-the-metal" and the engines were set on "kill" mode. The lead changed back and forth and the crowd in the Firebird bleachers was on their feet 

A representative of the Minox Company, Brad Weeks, also had traveled far and was on hand to say," We are delighted to be a part of such a spectacular sport. Greg and Kayleigh did a great job of providing the type of family entertainment everyone can watch and enjoy. Close competition down to the wire. "