Seafair Unlimited Hydroplane Race still under review days after race - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Seafair Unlimited Hydroplane Race still under review days after race

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HydroInsider.com Archive Photo: Jane and Billy Schumacher at the 2007 ABRA Awards Ceremony HydroInsider.com Archive Photo: Jane and Billy Schumacher at the 2007 ABRA Awards Ceremony

In a little more than a week, we'll now who is the official, final winner of Seafair's unlimited hydroplane race.

Jean Theoret and the U-37 Beacon Plumbing got the checkered flag at Seafair, but because of a penalty, Dave Villwock and the U-1 Elam have been declared the winner.   U-37 Owner Billy Schumacher filed the appeal along with a check for $500 that is required to start the official appeal process.

Read full story on Seafair Finals Controversy >>

Now, we're learning some new facts about the appeal, the process, and what happened before and during the race.

Before the races, teams were told the off-plane rule would be enforced.  They were told that the first times the referees saw them slow up and go off-plane, they would be warned.  A second infraction would result in a penalty if it happened during the 60 seconds before a race. 

According to ABRA, three teams were warned that they were going too slowly.  U-37 Beacon Plumbing/Jean Theoret, U-1 Elam/Dave Villwock, and U-6 Oh Boy! Oberto/Steve David.  The referees noted that all four boats did speed up to get back on plane prior to the start.  It appears Theoret was a bit early to the starting line and slowed up again to avoid jumping the gun.  Chief Referee Mike Noonan determined that Theoret had gone off plane and since he'd already been warned, he assessed the penalty.

Theoret led the race wire-to-wire, getting the checkered flag.  Some fans questions why Theoret got the checkered flag if he was penalized.  According to the ABRA rulebook, the penalty for going off plane is a ONE MINUTE penalty instead of the typical ONE LAP penalty assessed when someone jumps the gun.  So, according to the referees, the checkered flag was correct as Theoret had completed all five of his required laps.  The time penalty is added to the end of the run.

"All teams competing in the Final Heat were aware of any and all infractions, warnings and penalties that occurred before, during and after the running of the Final Heat," said an official ABRA news release.   

The penalty was announced during the first lap of the race.  "Teams were notified in the "corral" by an ABRA Referee, in communications with all Referees at all times," according to the ABRA news release.  It's up to the race teams to notify the drivers.

Unfortunately, fans and the race announcers weren't clued in... which added to the confusion. 

"All of us were told on our radios that the 37 had a 1 minute penalty before we even completed half of the first lap," said U-6 driver Steve David on the Hydropage Web Forum.

Read Steve David's reaction to the events at Seafair >>

There is a four-step process for making a final determination on the appeal.

Read ABRA's process for judging the appeal >>

Chief Referee and U-37 owners review the tape

Chief Referee Mike Noonan reviewed the tape at the KIRO-TV studios in Seattle and says he stand by the call.

Mike Noonan, Chief Referee, on KIRO-TV

KIRO-TV   Are you sticking by your call?  Did you make the right call? 

Noonan:  "Yes, sir. I am"

Later, Billy and Jane Schumacher were at the KIRO studios to view the same tape.  Their words speak for themselves.

Billy & Jane Schumacher on KIRO-TV:

Jane:  "That's a horse*** call.  He knows it, too."

Billy:  "It's bad for the sport.  If that decision stands, Bye Bye."

Watch the KIRO-TV story >>

KIRO-TV posts extended video interview with Mike Noonan >>

Last appeal

The last official appealwas in 2004 after the Gold Cup race in Detroit.  Dave Villwock in the U-1 Miss Budweiser got the flag and the win.  But after review, Nate Brown and the U-10 Miss Detroit Yacht Club was declared the winner.

Villwock had already received the hardware, but a review actually determined there were two infractions against the U-1 team.  In one case, he was called for moving in and hitting the U-16 prior to the start.  After recovering, it was determined that Villwock moved over again, forcing the U-16 into the U-8

More Details on 2004 Gold Cup Ruling >>

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