Jimmy Shane will drive the U-5 this season.

U-100 will race in 2012

Despite the death of team owner Fred Leland, U-100 will campaign this season.  "Fred wanted us to continue after he was gone, " said U-100 driver Greg Hopp.  "He had a plan."

Columbia River debris damages Hydroplanes during testing

Debris on the Columbia River damaged the U-88 Degree Men hydroplane . The area is in spring runoff. The river is running high and dirty with sticks and tumbleweeds. I affected the final run for Scott Liddycoat. Also the U-11 Peters & My and Myers discovered it had gear box damage after a full run. Meanwhile the U-88 suffered minor propeller shaft bearing damage.

"Everything was feeling pretty good. We were working out some issues all morning and got it running well, and it seems like we hit something. I felt it hit and the vibration follows. To be on the safe side, we shut it down and towed it in, take a look at everything, and hopefully don't do more damage," Liddycoat said.

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Hydros arrive for Columbia River testing

H1 Unlimited hydroplanes have arrived. Thursday the Degree Men and Peters & May teams started their testing on the Columbia River for the H1 Unlimited Air National Guard Series. The U-88 of Scott Liddycoat the and U-11 of JW Myers rolled up to the Lampson Pits. Both teams will be there through Friday. They say they are excited to be back to the river by the Blue Bridge for the first time since last year's Lamb Weston Columbia Cup.

"Yeah, first time back. Actually I'm glad to be back here because I felt like this was my worst race of the year last year. So I'm looking forward to getting an extra couple of laps out there tomorrow," Liddycoat said.

"You know we're really excited about going testing. We did a lot of work on the Peters & May boat over the winter. We've got a few things that we've tried that are a little different, and just work the bugs out. The sooner we get things sorted out, the better for the beginning of the season," Myers added.

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Mark & Mitch Evans are now owners

Veteran Air National Guard Hydroplane Series driver Mark Evans and his brother, Mitch, can add another title to their résumés—team owners.

The Evans brothers announced Monday they have purchased the U57 Unlimited Hydroplane from Ted Porter of Precision Performance LLC of Decatur, Ind., along with the truck, trailer, engines, gearbox and propellers. They took possession of the race boat this weekend in their hometown of Lake Chelan, Wash.  "I just love the sport and I love driving this boat," said Mark Evans, who has 10 career race victories. "I was shocked when my brother (Mitch) wanted to be part of this. That sealed the deal for me."

The purchase price was not disclosed but Mark said the team will race under the Formula Boats banner for the foreseeable future. The team plans to run the entire United States circuit with the goal of qualifying for the season-ending Oryx Cup UIM World Championships in Doha, Qatar. The U57 hull is the same boat Mark campaigned for Ted Porter in 2011.

Mark is the primary driver with his brother, Mitch, serving as the crew chief. John Walcker of Chelan is acting as team manager. Crew members will include Tony Scharf of Wenatchee, Wash., Paul LaMarre and Bill Guckian of Detroit, Josh Culver from the Tri-Cities, Wash., and Dave Lemon and Bianca Bononcini from the Seattle area.

Mark Evans has driven numerous Unlimiteds in his long career and likes the hull, which is why he decided to acquire it. Porter announced in January he was putting his team's three boats up for sale.  "It's a good fit for me," Evans said of the hull. "I like the way it handles and I am confident we can get another 5 to 10 percent out of the performance and be a little more competitive."

"I didn't want to get too excited until the boat actually got here," he added. "But when I saw it coming up the driveway it was a real rush. Mitch and John and I are very excited about making the circuit with the 57 and the great team we have put together."

Hydro Racing in China?!?

H1 Unlimited hydroplane racing and Beijing Kingolym Culture Communications Ltd. have entered into an agreement that could bring the world's fastest boats to China as soon as fall 2012.

The announcement comes after recent meetings between H1 Unlimited Chairman Sam Cole, Chinese Motorboat Association General Secretary Wan Hongjun and Beijing Kingolym President Zhengmin Shi to lay the groundwork for establishing an H1 presence in China. Although much work needs to be done to make this a reality, Cole and Shi agreed that the public awareness of the plan is essential.

"We are excited about engaging Beijing Kingolym to make this expansion happen," Cole said. "They have worked with boat racing in the past, have the support of the leadership of the Chinese Motorboat Association and have opened an office in Beijing to take this to the next level."

Cole acknowledged that there are several hurdles to clear:

• A working agreement with UIM to allow for additional international events

• Changes in shipping procedures for the teams; converting to containers

• Invitations from the appropriate municipalities in China for the exact race location(s)

• Scheduling resolution within the H1 Unlimited series

• Ensuring no conflicts with the UIM World Championship Oryx Cup event in Doha, Qatar