Jean Theoret tries to repeat as Gold Cup Champion - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Jean Theoret tries to repeat as Gold Cup Champion

"Detroit is very, very tough especially when you get the wind," said U-37 driver Jean Theoret.  "If you get wind up current and get whitecaps, it's tough."

It's not just the river.  The course itself presents unique difficulties, but also unique opportunities.

"The first corner is a very, very big corner and lots of room," said Theoret.  "The roostertail corner has almost no room."  That means the start becomes even more important than ever since the first one into the turn controls the course.  "You have to work this course very well to get where you want to be at the right time. 

It's a driver's course.  It's not just the fastest boat in the open water that wins.  Maybe that's why five different drivers have won the Gold Cup each of the last five years.

"You don't have the room to maneuver.  If you're in  front can use this course to your advantage."

By being first in the short corner, you can block out other boats from trying to get around and slingshotting past out of the corner.  "if you can carry around that small corner and not slide around," he said.    

"The inside lane and the start, it's pretty much right there."

That's what Theoret did last year to win the Gold Cup.  He nailed the start, grabbed the inside lane and - despite watching his cowling fly off in mid-race - won the race.

Do you believe in miracles?

Jean Theoret's come-from-behind victory last year at Detroit is the stuff of dreams.   "Being a Canadian, it was an impossible dream.  It's a great honor (to win)," said Jean Theoret, U-37 driver. 

Theoret hit a buoy on the first heat last year and finished last, then jumped the gun on his second heat. "We were trying some new stuff in the boat," said Theoret.  "Hit a buoy, jumped the gun, having trouble before the start.   It came down to the final heat.  He had to win to even get in the finals, something he hadn't done that whole season.  He said to his crew before the race:  "Do you believe in Miracles?"

He won the heat to get a spot in the finals and then just went out and nailed the start to win the race, his first Gold Cup.  "Even though we lost the cowling and rear wing, we were able to keep the front row.  It will be a memorable race fore the rest of my life."

There was even drama in the finals.  The cowling flew off.  "I saw in the rearview mirror the rear wing was gone," Theoret said. "It didn't affect the way the boat was handling. I said, 'We got to go.'"

"We had been hurt so much in the three heats before I guess the confidence goes away. And when the confidence goes away, you don't drive so well," Theoret said. "When your confidence comes back, I think you also gain boat speed. You're handling the boat better and you're not making mistakes, and that's what happens."

"As disappointed as I am, hats off to those guys. Jumping the gun, running over buoys, all types of stuff going wrong. They put it together when it counts," U-3 driver Jimmy King said.

"They (the crew) gave me a helluva boat," Theoret said.  He led start to finish, grabbing the inside lane one right in the warm-ups and held it throughout.

"Man, did he win this final," U-6 driver Steve David said about Theoret.  "What a fight out there," said Nate Brown, driver of the backup U-1 boat.  "(Theoret) is a great Gold Cup champion," said U-2.25 drive Ken Muscatel.  "It's really, really rough... he ran a great race."