U-5 Jeff Bernard, U-37 Jean Theoret lead qualifiers after first day of Unlimited Hydroplane action at San Diego - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

U-5 Jeff Bernard, U-37 Jean Theoret lead qualifiers after first day of Unlimited Hydroplane action at San Diego

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SAN DIEGO, Cali. - Eight teams qualified for the San Diego Bayfair powered by the Union Tribune on Friday.  At the end of the day, Jeff Bernard and the U-5 FormulaBoats.com led the pack.

Bernard has a slim lead, just barely half a second, over second place U-37 Beacon Plumbing and Jean Theoret.  Steve David in the U-6 Oh Boy! Oberto/Miss Madison is third so far.

Mike Allen returned to the cockpit after sitting out two races due to injuries and posted a 4th place qualifying time.  Only Greg Hopp in the U-100 Mirageboats.com has yet to qualify, but the team is in the pits and will have time ont he water on Saturday.

Qualifying teams/times so far...

U-5 FormulaBoats.com
Jeff Bernard   158.612

U-37 Miss Beacon Plumbing
Jean Theoret   158.083

U-6 Oh Boy! Oberto / Miss Madison
Steve David   156.214

U-7 FormulaBoats.com
Mike Allen   155.483

U-13 Spirit of Detroit/Graham Trucking
J. Michael Kelly  155.432

U-3 Grandview Resort presents Hoss Mortgage Investors
Jimmy King   155.084

U-25 Superior Racing
Dr. Ken Muscatel  148.743

U-50 Spirit of the Navy
Brian Perkins  144.671

News release from ABRA...

Jeff Bernard (Kent, Wash.) in the U-5 Formulaboats.com finished the first day at the American Boat Racing Association's San Diego Bayfair powered by the Union-Tribue with the fastest speed powering around the Mission Bay course at an average speed of 158.612 mph.

There were two successes for the Formulaboats.com team -- Bernard's qualification time and the return of the U-7 hull and its driver Mike Allen (New Orleans, Louis.), both damaged after a blowover accident at the Gold Cup in Detroit, Mich.

"It was unbelievable," said Allen after his 155.483 mph run, good for fourth overall. "The boat got here yesterday with absolutely nothing in it. In less than 24 hours, the entire Formula team put it together and we ran a 155 lap. I'm doing well. [My] ribs and knee are fine. Tonight we'll read the data and see what we can do to tweak it for tomorrow. It felt sluggish, but I think we can get at least another one mile-per-hour. We'll run one time in the morning and then we'll be ready to race."

Ahead of Allen on the qualification grid is the U-37 Miss Beacon Plumbing driven by Jean Theoret (Montreal, Quebec), and defending Bayfair champion U-6 Oh Boy! Oberto/Miss Madison driven by Steve David (Lighthouse Point, Fla.).

Four other boats have qualified for the first heat of racing scheduled for 4:10 p.m. PDT on Saturday: the U-13 Graham Trucking/Spirit of Detroit driven by J. Michael Kelly (Puyuallap, Wash.) (155.432 mph), the U-3 Grandview Resort presents Hoss Mortgage Investors (155.084 mph), the U-25 Superior Racing (148.743 mph) driven by Ken Muscatel (Seattle, Wash.), and the U-50 Spirit of the Navy with Brian Perkins (Kent, Wash.) (144.671).

The U-100 Mirageboats.com driven by Greg Hopp (Snohomish, Wash.) has yet to qualify. The boat made its way on to the course during the afternoon qualification session, but came back in before completing a lap.

"We had a fuel shutoff control that wasn't adjusted right," said U-100 owner Fred Leland. "It's all set now."

The U-100 still has tomorrow morning to qualify for the winner take all final heat scheduled for 5:15 p.m. PDT on Sunday, Sept. 21.

Chief referee Mike Noonan announced earlier that a one-minute score up buoy (previously used in Madison, Evansville and Detroit) will be reinstated for the San Diego race.

"With the salt here, we don't want the boats going slow, so we'll probably put the one-minute score up buoy somewhere in turn one," said Noonan. "That way, they'll have to go pretty fast to get there from the starting line."