2021 Water Follies Logo

The 55th running Tri-City Water Follies in quickly approaching. After 2 years, the final touches are being made to bring back the banner event to Hydro-Town.

The three day event starts Friday, July 23rd and runs through Sunday, July 25th. The Tri-Cities annual tradition features high-speed hydro action and spectacular over the river aerobatics on the shores of the Columbia River.

The event is free on Friday (Excluding parking), and tickets and parking can be purchased HERE. While it's difficult to gage the traffic for this year's event, the Water Follies team is hopeful.

"We hear from the industry that these festivals are overwhelmed with fans and guests," said Water Follies event director Kathy Powell, "because we're so starved for entertainment right now."

One difference this year than in past years is the venure being broken into zones. While there's no capacity and guests can roam from zone to zone, the Covid protocols called for this change.

"We're using different language," said Powell. "We're using zones and that's because we have to follow Covid requirements, but don't be afraid to ask. We'll be able to help you out."

In addition to zones, the next change is will be the lack of private hospitality tents. That means more shoreline will be available for general admission guests.

Information on the entertainment:

HAPO Columbia Cup

The 2021 HAPO Columbia Cup will mark the 56th time Unlimited Hydroplanes have raced on the Columbia River. This year’s event, like the inaugural in 1966, will most likely have 12 Unlimiteds in attendance. But the modern Unlimited Hydroplane has very little in common with those first boats that churned the waters of the Columbia River. The hydroplanes of today are almost more plane than hydro. They are thirty foot long; 7,000 pound wings that glide over the water with only the bare minimum of the boat making contact with the river. Powered by turbine engines capable of nearly 3,000hp, the boats can reach straightaway speeds close to 200 miles per hour. Qualifying lap averages in the mid 160mph range are common with the faster boats in the fleet. To put it in simpler terms, at speed, an Unlimited Hydroplane will travel more than the length of a football fields in the space of a second.

HAPO "Over the River" Airshow

Grand Prix World Hydros

Water Follies is excited to welcome the automotive powered hydroplanes of Grand Prix World back for the 2021 Columbia Cup. Grand Prix World is a class and club in the American Powerboat Association with the goal of bringing the thunder back to the fans of boat racing. They bring close competitive racing with lots of noise Deck to Deck full throttle fight for lanes.

When the Grand Prix fire their engines, it will be sure to get the attention of the entire shoreline. At 26 feet long, most GP boats are only slightly smaller than an unlimited hydroplane. GPs tip the scales at roughly 3000lbs, less than half of what their big brothers the Unlimited Hydroplanes weigh. These boats are powered by 468 cubic inch big block engines with a 6-71 blower turning at 120 percent of crankshaft speed. In other words…REALLY FAST!

Plans include the participation of seven GP boats from the Grand Prix World organization. There will be one GP preliminary heat on Saturday, One more on Sunday and a final heat. Although they do not have qualifying like the Unlimiteds, expect plenty of testing to occur on Friday. There are also plans for several GP boat displays around town prior to race weekend.

Vintage Hydroplanes

The theme of this year’s vintage hydroplane exhibition could be ‘Rolls-Royce’s Revenge”. The 2021 Columbia Cup hosts a trio of Rolls-Royce powered vintage unlimited hydroplanes. These boats dominated the sport from 1973 to 1981. Overall, they have won 68 races, 7 Gold Cups, and 9 national titles. While they were on top, few could challenge them.

1955 Miss Thriftway

Years Active: 3

Fastest Qualifying Speed: 110.144 (1980)

Fastest Competition Lap: 115.342 (1980)

Wins: 3

Gold Cup Wins: 2

Powerplant: Allison

The 1955 Miss Thriftway is a replica of Bill Muncey’s original Thriftway that was destroyed at Madison, Indiana in 1957. This was the hull that first brought Muncey to prominence in the sport of Unlimited Hydroplane racing. After narrowly losing the Gold Cup in 1955 due to a dubious bonus points system, Muncey rallied and drive the Thriftway to two Gold Cup wins in 1956 and 1957. The Thriftway also managed to win the President’s cup in 1956, before its early demise.

The group Vashon Unlimiteds eventually came together with the goal of building a replica of the 1955 Miss Thriftway. From 2002-2007, they labored to produce the beautiful replica you see today. They have been a frequent performer at the Tri-Cities.

1956 Miss Wahoo

Years Active: 8

Fastest Qualifying Speed: 120.356 (1965)

Fastest Competition Lap: 117.647 (1964)

Wins: 7

Powerplant: Allison

When Bill Boeing Jr. first saw the beautiful 1955 Miss Thriftway replica, he expressed regret that his Miss Wahoo no longer existed. Museum Board member Dave Knowlen hatched a plan. He assembled a group of local businessmen that including Bill Boeing, Jr., Scott Carson, president and chief executive officer of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Bruce McCaw and Joe Clark to fund a full-scale replica of the Miss Wahoo.

Working from a copy of the original plans, Ron Jones, Sr. drew up a set of full-scale plans for the Miss Wahoo and a volunteer Museum crew, let by Larry Fuller and Oh Boy! Oberto crew chief Mike Hanson began construction in late September 2008.

Since its completion, the Wahoo has been a frequent participant in the Columbia Cup vintage hydroplane exhibitions.

The original Wahoo won seven races over its eight-year racing career, including two President’s Cups.

1957 Breathless II

Years Active: 20

Fastest Qualifying Speed: 112.971 (1960)

Fastest Competition Lap: 100.558 (1966)

Powerplant: Allison

This hull has represented a number of iconic and eclectic sponsors over its 26-year racing career. Some of the more popular include Sunny Jim, Barney Armstrong’s Machine and Shakey’s Special. This hull’s greatest claim to fame is that it was hydroplane legend Chip Hanauer’s first ride. After serving as a “back marker” for a number of years, the hull was retired from racing. Eventually, it found its way to the Hydroplane and Raceboat Museum, where it was restored and ran painted to look like the famous Hawaii Kai. After being acquired by Mitch Evans, the boat has undergone extensive work and debuted as the Breathless3 in 2016.

For 2018, the hull will be painted in the livery of the Blue Chip, which it competed under during the 1963 & 1964 seasons.

1962 Miss Bardahl

Years Active: 4

Fastest Qualifying Speed: 118.412 (1963)

Fastest Competition Lap: 117.136 (1965)

Wins: 12

Gold Cup Wins: 3

National Titles: 3

Powerplant: Rolls Royce Merlin

The 1962 Miss Bardahl, driven by Ron Musson, was a picture of consistency for three years. Between 1963 and 1965, it finished fifty-seven consecutive heats. Along the way, the Bardahl won 12 races, including three straight Gold Cups and three National Championships.

5 Liter Hydroplanes

The Tri-City Water Follies is delighted to announce that the HAPO Columbia Cup/Over the River Air Show will welcome back the 5-liter class hydroplanes to its lineup of exciting boat racing on the Columbia River July 23-25, 2021. These incredibly fast 5-liter hydroplanes replaced the small 1-liters that have run here in years past.

“These are bigger and faster race boats, but they are still small enough to take the corners very fast. They are a lot of fun to watch”, said Kathy Powell.

For more information on the event: waterfollies.com