Dave Villwock takes the U-16 for a test ride in Seattle - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

PHOTOS: Mark Allen

Dave Villwock takes the U-16 for a test ride in Seattle

SEATTLE, Wash - It can be a big advantage to get your unlimited hydroplane out on the water and test things out before the season starts.  The U-37 and U-48 got a chance to that in the Tri-Cities a few weeks ago, now it's the U-16 Miss Elstrom Elam Plus.

Dave Villwock, the winningest active driver on the Unlimited circuit, took his boat out for a spin on Lake Washington.  "Really, we want to get things going and make sure the computers are working and the engines are set for fuel level," said Villwock. "Gear boxes that have been re-built - we just want to make everything run."

The test run is also good training for the driver, he said.

>> UPDATE: 50 more pictures of U-16 testing by Jim Clark
>> VIDEO:  From Hydro.us

In a season where other race teams are building brand new boats, it's easy to forget that nearly every competitive boat gets re-built to a great degree during the off-season.  For the U-16, that meant engines re-built, put back together, the boat re-painted, stocking up and re-tooling spare parts.

"We've done a lot of work building propellers," said Villwock, including props for several other teams.