Why People in Tri-Cities Go Crazy for ‘Boat Races’
This article is for those of us that just don't get it.
Maybe you're new to the Tri-Cities. You think you've got a feel for things but you still can't figure out why the town goes bonkers in July. Maybe you've lived in Tri-Cities for a while but just can't convince yourself to go out to the river during the fabled "boat race weekend."
What are the "boat races" in Tri-Cities, Washington?
Since 1966, the Tri-Cities has been the host community for the Columbia Cup. The "boat races" have been a part of our community longer than most of us have been here. If there was one main event of the year in Tri-Cities, this is it. The Columbia Cup is one of H1 Unlimited's biggest events on the unlimited circuit. In oversimplified terms, think NASCAR on the water. But why should you care?
What is a hydroplane?
The main attraction of boat race weekends with the Tri-City Water Follies is the boats themselves. Gone are the days of the old boats, these are elite performance craft. The Tri-City Water Follies say these hydroplanes are more plane than boat and can "travel more than the length of a football field in the space of a second." They kick up the famed rooster tail behind them and barely even touch the water. They go so fast that you can watch them flip in the air if the driver can't fight off the elements.
Do people party at the boat races?
While fans of the sport will travel as far as Alaska for the Columbia Cup, all you need to convert most casual viewers to the cause is to invite them to one of the parties taking place on the shore.
I've had the opportunity to go to my work's shoreside parties for the Columbia Cup. I'll tell you this, I've yet to see somebody having a bad time. There are a couple of ways to do it. You can sit under the tent and have some food and beverages, orrrrrr you can get your butt in the water (floatation devices add to the fun!) and pound some beers while you watch the boats in their element as the water perpetually keeps you cool. It is a perfect physical experience, trust me.
Do jets fly over the Columbia River?
The airshow is probably my favorite part of Tri-City Water Follies. Each year, the organizers get a variety of aircraft from the United States Navy to fly over the Columbia River. In recent years, we've seen the brand-new F-35 jet in action.
With the pandemic making the 2020 Columbia Cup impossible and 2021 being a quiet year, I am excited to see the boat races restored to the glory they deserve.
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