High and fast waters for 2012 Columbia Cup - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

High and fast waters for 2012 Columbia Cup

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KENNEWICK, Wash. - Down at the Water Follies there is high energy, high flying planes, and this year... high waters.

While the depth poses a problem when setting up the course, it's the faster current that can make the water more dangerous for the racers.

"The biggest struggle is coming back to the dock," said season Columbia Cub vet, Greg Hopp. He's been racing hydroplanes for years and being from the Everett area, he's no stranger to the Columbia River.

However, this year, it's a little bit different and we can thank Mother Nature for the added elements on the course.

"We've spoken with the corps numerous times in the past week about the flows and they've told us there's nothing they can really do about it," said Columbia Cup Safety Director Michael Hendricks.

The river is running high and very fast. Corps of Engineers hydrologist Karl Kanbergs said the water is the highest it's been at this time in about 20 years. It's due to heavy snow pack in the northern part of the Columbia basin and record rainfall in June.

He said the water has to go somewhere and the Columbia River is at its highest peak for the runoff right now.

"It's pretty rough," said Hopp. "I mean, the boats get going 180, 185 at the end of the straightaway and you go into that turn and the first lap the waves might be two feet deep and then three and then the next they're four. Hitting the water that fast, first off, isn't good for the boats, it's not good for the driver and anything can happen."

"Hopefully it's a safe weekend for everybody and we don't have to worry about any of these problems but we're prepared for them," said Hendricks.