U-1 Elam ready to go for Tri-Cities after hitting rock in Valleyfield. Dave Villwock: It was as hard as I've ever hit anything - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

U-1 Elam ready to go for Tri-Cities after hitting rock in Valleyfield. Dave Villwock: It was as hard as I've ever hit anything

Damage to the U-1 in Valleyfield Damage to the U-1 in Valleyfield

It's got to be a hydroplane driver's worst nightmare.  You're running at 140 miles an hour or more when a part breaks and you lose control of the boat.  Your boat rockets out of control and closes in on a patrol boat.

We've seen it twice this season.  Steve David and the U-6 Oh Boy! Oberto hit something in the water at Madison and nearly hit a patrol boat.  Only a fast left turn - really fast - managed to keep the boat from disaster.

It happened again to Dave Villwock in an even more serious situation in Valleyfield.   And Villwock had  already had a brush with a patrol boat earlier in the season.   In a test run on Lake Washington, a patrol boat ran through the course and Villwock was forced to take the Elam through the wake - missing the patrol boat - but going airborne.  Everyone was OK there.

But things turned very serious - and nearly disasterous - in Valleyfield, Quebec.

"We broke some hardware that held the skid fin on.  It let go," said Dave Villwock, U-1 Elam driver.  "Then a second and a half later, I was looking at the entire crowd of Valleyfield."

Villwock says he managed somehow to turn the boat to the right.  "Then I saw a patrol boat.  I'm trying to get control away from them."  He did, but not before hitting head-on into a rock on the shore.

"I was elated to get past it (the patrol boat)," he said.  "I didn't care that much that I hit that rock.  The patrol boat had no place to go."

Villwock estimates he was going 140-150 mph when this happened.  "The unlimited had a bead on him," he said.  "Even if he had the engine running, there was no escape."

He hit the rock.  Hard.  "It was as hard as I've ever hit anything," said Villwock.  "Pretty abrupt stop.  Graphite boat didn't give much either."

His knee was banged up.  He says the belt hit hard against his chest.  But he survived.

"I feel good.  Back to 100%," he said on Monday.  "I huurt a lot for the first week, but it wore off.  Everything's good again."

Villwock and the U-1 Elam #1 hull plan to be in the Tri-Cities and ready to race.

Villwock sat out the Gold Cup while driver Nate Brown took the back-up hull and placed 4th.

"We wanted to run the new boat the rest of the season," said Villwock.  And that meant heading back to Seattle to work on the hull and rest up.  "Everything's back on, just doing paint work, a little bit of hardware work."

Villwock says there's still a lot of hours of work to go, but the boat's structurally sound and all the equipment's working.  "A lot of work in a short period of time."

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