DETROIT GOLD CUP 2009: Dave Villwock and U-16 Elam win Unlimited - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |



DETROIT GOLD CUP 2009: Dave Villwock and U-16 Elam win Unlimited Hydroplane racing's Gold Cup

Detroit, MICH. - They hadn't faced each other all weekend in heat racing and that only added to the excitement for fans waiting to see the match-up between Dave Villwock in the U-16 Elam and Steve David in the U-1 Oh Boy! Oberto/Miss Madison.

David, the defending national champion, had won all four of his heat races.  Villwock, the defending Gold Cup champ, had won three out of four.  In his final heat, a power failure in the boat had shut him down.

J. Michael Kelly in the U-7 Graham Trucking had been running very strong all weekend.  Jeff Bernard in the U-7 pulled out the victory in Heat 4B to get into the finals.  Greg Hopp in the U-100 ran third in overall points after heat racing and made the front row.

The U-37 was tabbed as the trailer boat in the finals, but withdrew shortly before the race.

When the race-before-the-race began, it was a new strategy from Dave Villwock that led to a runaway win and the 100th Gold Cup trophy.  

Gold Cup Finals

With no off-plane rule effective in Detroit, Dave Villwock in the U-16 slowed down and parked it in lane one.  He kept some slow forward momentum, but put the boat in a position that nobody else could move in.

Villwock owned lane one and David grabbed lane two.  Greg Hopp, charging on the outside, came up side-by-side with Villwock as they crossed the start line.  David quickly moved into second place.

Jeff Bernard also passed up Hopp to challenge David for second.  Meanwhile, Villwock put down the hammer and took a huge lead.  The start was under review as it appeared that Hopp and possibly Villwock may have crossed the start too early, but it turned out to be a good start with no gun jumpers.

After the second lap, Villwock took a roostertail lead.  David moved inside to try to cut the gap, but couldn't get any closer. 

Going into the start line, J. Michael Kelly hit some rough water and that closed up the gap with Jeff Bernard for the fight for third place.

Villwock cruised from there.  David had onto second place without any problem.  Jeff Bernard edged out J. Michael Kelly by a boat length at the finish.  The U-100 went dead more than once, but Hopp got it re-started and limped across the finish line.


  1. U-16 Elam - Dave Villwock
  2. U-1 Oh Boy! Oberto/Miss Madison - Steve David
  3. U-5 - Jeff Bernard
  4. U-7 Graham Trucking - J. Michael Kelly
  5. U-100 Jarvis Painting - Greg Hopp

After winning the Gold Cup, Villwock hopped on top of his boat and pumped his fist in the air.  Steve David, exiting his boat, stood at the end of the dock and clapped for the Elam team.

"The whole day's been so tense.  This year's been so difficult.  The competition's been so tough," said U-16's Erick Ellstrom on WORX.

"That was a great win," said Villwock. 


"Everybody else was running around us, saying what's he doing.  He's never done that before," he said about his gambit before the start.  "We're going to win this thing or lose this thing big."

They did win big.  "We did the 5 litre thing (parking it and doing a fast start-up) and hauled buns," Villwock said.

Steve David said, "Lane one is still the shortest way around this angry Detroit River and Villwock just got to lane one before us by ‘trolling'." 

"We knew what he was up to when he made the slight modification to his boat last night," David said.  "He used the rules to his advantage."

The win was Villwock's 7th Gold Cup victory and 58th career win.

The somber David said, "I guess I just have to keep coming back until I win this thing.  In the year 2016."  The Detroit Gold Cup is the only race on the circuit that David hasn't won.  The defending national champions said, "We may not have won the race but we came away with more points than anyone else."

David led the weekend with 1980 national points and Villwock left Detroit with 1677.


PHOTO:  Owen Blauman 

PHOTO:  James Crisp