Lots of debris causes lots of damage at Evansville - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Lots of debris causes lots of damage at Evansville

Drivers don't seem to be questioning decisions to race or not race at Madison in light of lots of damage to boat and the amount of debris in the water.

"The water looked reasonably well, " said Jimmy King, U-3 driver, describing the Madison course. "The problem is - we call them prop getters. It's the stuff that gets you, it's below the surface."

That stuff got more than a few boats. 60% of the fleet was damaged at Madison. Race officials finally canceled Heats 3A and 3B because of it. High water levels caused flooding upstream and put the water level more than 11 feet above its normal mark on Saturday, causing race officials to scrub it altogether. On Sunday, it was hit and miss. For some boats, the operative word was hit.

In Heat 2-B at the Madison Regatta, Steve David's U-6 Oh Boy! Oberto did a complete 360-degree revolution and just missed a patrol flag boat in the water after it hit something in the water. David was OK, but the boat was done for the weekend.

Jean Theoret, U-37 driver, said "we have to put a show on, but concern is safety." More than once officials shut down the course to check for and clear out debris, including logs that popped up. Barge traffic isn't completely stopped down for hydroplane racing. When barges would come through, it would often pull up stuff behind it.

In retrospect, Theoret says, "(I wish we) had more people up river to catch debris... maybe nets to catch it. Broken boats make a bad show."

River levels had dropped overnight and the amount of debris on the Ohio River was down. Race officials cleared the way for racing action on Sunday, but it was a wild ride. A small fire broke out on the U-3 which later damaged its prop. The U-10 lost power while on the river, the U-21 had some problem with the gearshaft and needed repair and the U-100 experienced mechanical problems. The U-10 and U-100 won't make it to the next stop, Valleyfield, Quebec.

Of course, the finals were called off after an out-of-control car raced through the crowd, injuring 11 people - putting two of them on life support - before plunging into the river.

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