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Madison gearing up

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Madison Regatta organizers are gearing up for the H1 Unlimited hydroplane tour season opener July 2-4 on the Ohio River.

At their monthly meeting on Wednesday night, the latest news on the Lucas Oil Indiana Governor's Cup was announced and this year's Regatta poster was unveiled. 

Although they've never lived in Madison – and only visit once a year – the legendary Obertos will lead the Regatta parade through downtown.

The Madison Courier reports that Art and Dorothy Oberto may have meant as much to the city as anybody over the past 10 years. In the summer of 2000, the Obertos' Seattle-based business, the Oberto Sausage Co., signed on to sponsor the local Miss Madison Unlimited hydroplane. Ten years later, the marriage between Oh Boy! Oberto and the Miss Madison has produced six wins, two National Championships and plenty of special moments for local hydroplane fans.

On Wednesday, Madison Regatta Inc. officially announced that Art and Dorothy Oberto will be this year's parade grand marshals. It is one of the highest honors the organization can give.

"The Obertos have sponsored the Miss Madison for 10 years and it has been a wonderful run," said Regatta Parade co-chairman Dottie Burress in announcing the decision at the membership meeting Wednesday. "We think it's a fitting tribute."

The six wins under the Oh Boy! Oberto banner in 10 years are one more than the Miss Madison had in its previous 39 years of existence. Driver Steve David has won the driver's title four of the past five years, and the Miss Madison team itself enters the 2010 campaign as the two-time defending National Champion.

"None of this would have been possible without the support of our sponsor, the Oberto family of Seattle," said Miss Madison President Bob Hughes. "Seattleites consider us to be a Seattle boat, while Madisonians consider us to be a Madison boat. And that's just fine with us."

In other Regatta news…

In addition to the Unlimiteds, the Grand National and National Modified classes will compete on the Wild Bill Cantrell race course in points races for both classes. The Grand National is the former 7 litre class, where many Unlimited pilots sat before entering the ranks of the top class of hydro racing.

Up to 12 teams will be racing. Both classes will be combined, as the size and design of the hulls are similar and will race on a 1 mile 2/3 course.

Regatta Past President Nate Davis told the Madison Courier, "These boats make noise and for 15 years, we've heard that people want the noise back. When these babies fire up, it'll make you put your fingers in your ears and a smile on your face."

Dan Cole – Madison businessman and younger brother of H1 Chairman Sam Cole – posted on his Facebook page that he was named the new "Voice" of the regatta at the Wednesday night meeting. "I have some mighty large shoes to fill with this one. My dad (Phil Cole), Dave Taylor and Jeff Ayler have preceded me as Public Dress announcers. Only hope I can do half as well as they have.