1987 Budweiser Unlimited Hydroplane Championship

As usual, not many boats entered

By Craig Davis, Outdoors Writer

The big question, as qualifying Degins today in the Miami Budweiser Unlimited Hydroplane Regatta, focuses not so much on which boats will be able to meet the minimum speed requirement as it does on how many boats will simply show up at Miami Marine Stadium.

Sunday's regatta is the first of the season and historically draws me smallest fleet of competitors. With most racing teams based in the Northwest and several building new boats, a number of them will wait until the July 5 Thunder on the Ohio to make their 1987 debuts. Speculation in the pits Wednesday ranged from five to nine boats making the long trek to South Florida.

The two most successful teams, the Lakeland-based Miss Budweiser and Miller American from Kent, Wash., have arrived with new turbine-powered boats featuring enclosed safety cockpits. Jim Kropfeld won the Miami regatta last year — the first for a turbine boat in saltwater — with the previous Miss Budweiser and went on to capture the world championship. He recently survived a crash in the new boat while testing at Seattle.

Miller American driver Chip Hanauer has won three world championships and a record-tying five consecutive Gold Cups, but has never done well in Miami. He is hopeful the new boat will do a better job of contending with the humidity and salt spray which choked his turbine engine last year. The Gold Cup will also be run on a saltwater course this year at San Diego.

Among other prominent drivers and boats expected are Steve Reynolds in Cellular One and Ron Snyder in the venerable Holset Miss Madison. Jim Harvey’s Oh Boy! Oberto was damaged this week in a tractor-trailer accident in Georgia, but may still be able to race.

Time trials are scheduled for today and Saturday, 9-5 p.m. Racing begins at noon Sunday.

In addition to the unlimited hydros, many of Florida’s top drivers will be competing in several limited hydro classes.

Tickets for Sunday are $12 for grandstand seats, $10 general admission. Admission is $5 for Saturday’s qualifying session, free today. Tickets may be obtained by phoning Bass Ticket outlets, 653-0450 or 633-2277; or Select-a-Seat, 625-5100.

(Reprinted from the South Florida Sun Sentinel, June 12, 1987)