2008 Indiana Governor's Cup

Jeff Bernard Takes Shortened Madison Regatta

Twenty-three-year-old Jeff Bernard out maneuvered salty veteran Steve David to claim the young driver’s first ever victory July 6th at the 58th Indiana Governor’s Cup in Madison, Ind., and end David’s quest to bring the City of Madison its first victory here since 2001.

“I want to say sorry to the fans that their boat didn’t win,” Bernard of Kent, Wash., said following his surprising victory. “But I want to remind everyone this is an Indiana boat as well.” Bernard’s U-5 Formulaboats.com is based out of Decatur, Ind., located on Indiana’s northeast corner.

Before the young driver claimed victory, he managed to unseat the perennial favorite U-6 Oh Boy! Oberto driven by David. Here’s how he did it:

Heat 1-A

Minutes before the flying start, Bernard snuck to the coveted inside lane and forced David to the second. Despite Bernard’s best efforts, David only needed the first turn of the heat to pull ahead for good and cruise to an easy victory.

After pulling away, Bernard could only look at David’s expanding roostertail throughout the race.

David’s lead was so dominating that the popular pilot of Madison’s hometown boat had time to bring his craft close to the shoreline so fans could get an up close look at the winning boat.

More than 20 seconds after David crossed the finish line, Bernard came across in second. Fellow teammate Mike Allen in the U-7 Formulaboats.com took home the third place finish.

U-100 Mirageboats.com pilot Greg Hopp faced mechanical problems throughout the heat and came in a distant fourth to round out the field.

Heat 1B

Concerns over debris in the Ohio River wreaked havoc on the start of Heat 1B and affected the finish of the race. While most of the field was doomed to a slow start, David Bryant in the U-10 Miss Ahern Rentals was in the right position to notch the driver’s second career heat victory.

Bryant found himself nearly a half lap away from the rest of the field as the official clock wound down to the start. Because of the confusion and uneasiness by the other drivers, Bryant enjoyed a smooth and easy ride to take home the heat victory.

“We knew what the times were and we took advantage,” an elated Bryant said following the win. “We heard the Miss Beacon Plumbing wasn’t going out due to debris. We just buckled down and took advantage.”

Debris from upriver have given crews, drivers and fans headaches all day and delayed racing for more than three hours. But after the finish of the day’s first heat drivers noticed formerly submerged debris had risen to the surface. This caused some confusion which gave way to the staggered start.

Because of the start, last week’s Thunder on the Ohio winner Jean Theoret in the U-37 Miss Beacon Plumbing could do little to catch up to the pacing Bryant. Theoret ended up in third while Brian Perkins in the U-50 Spirit of the Navy took home second.

Rounding out the field was the engine problem plagued U-3 Miss Chrysler Jeep piloted by Jimmy King. King, who was unable to get on the water Friday or Saturday due to engine gremlins from a week ago, couldn’t muster a lap before coming into the pits.

Water conditions and floating debris played havoc with the teams prior to and during Heats 2A and 2B, but the Jerky-powered U-6 Oh Boy! Oberto and the U-5 Formulaboats.com still found their way to the winner’s circle at the 2008 Indiana Governor’s Cup in Madison, Indiana.

Heat 2A

A spirited dual in Heat 2A between the young guns of the hydroplane circuit went to Kent, Wash., native Jeff Bernard in the U-5 Formulaboats.com.

Bernard dueled deck-to-deck with fellow western Washington native Brian Perkins in the Spirit of the Navy for three laps. As the two young pilots traded positions for the entire race, Bernard pulled away for good after clearing turn two on the Bill Cantrell Memorial Course.

Attrition on the river left the two drivers all alone when the starting timer hit zero. Minutes before the boats hit the water, Heat 1B winner David Bryant and the Ahern Rentals voluntarily withdrew from competition amid fears of heavy debris.

“We are hearing about solid wood from one end to another on the river,” Kim Gregory, owner of the U-10 said following the withdrawal. “We have already lost a rudder. I want to go to the Gold Cup.”

With the blue and yellow boat on the trailer, Greg Hopp and the Mirageboats.com failed to leave the dock. The Fred Leyland-owned boat has struggled with mechanical issues throughout the day. Those issues have hampered the boat’s effort to run competitively through two heats.

With two of the four drivers on the shoreline, the two young friends from Kent were all that was left dueling on the Ohio River.

Despite the lack of drivers, fans along the river enjoyed by far the closest race of the day. Until Bernard came out ahead on the final turn, the end result remained in doubt.

Heat 2B

A gamble by Jean Theoret in the Miss Beacon Plumbing didn’t pay off after the Canadian driver was penalized for breaking a rule put in place by the American Boat Racing Association.

Theoret crossed the exit buoy in turn one before the one minute mark to the start which in turn forced him to take another lap while the U-6 and U-7 continued to a flying start. With Theoret forced to make another cut through the course, Madison favorite Steve David and the Oberto bested Mike Allen of the U-7 Formulaboats.com to take the second heat victory for the Madison-owned boat.

David’s victory was another sign of dominance by Madison’s favorite boat as the fleet prepared for the 58th running of the lndiana Governor’s Cup. Due to debris problems, the running of Heats 3A and 3B have been cancelled in lieu of the running of the championship heat. The victory also ensured the U-6 would be on the front line for the winner-take-all final.

In the second lap of the five heat winner-take-all race, Bernard edged past David to claim the lead. After that move, David could do little to catch the streaking red boat.

Bernard’s teammate and former national champion U-7 Formulaboats.com piloted by Mike Allen, took a third place finish.

As Bernard was fending off the hard-charging David, he also contended with rough waters caused by heavy debris in the Ohio River. Throughout the day Sunday, the Unlimited Hydroplane fleet was whittled away by the debris. Despite the obvious hurdles, Bernard managed to be standing by day’s end.

“We’ve got a boat that can finally run over rough water,” Bernard said.

While Bernard and his team managed to beat the debris, other drivers had a much different outlook.

“It is the equivalent of throwing marbles on the Indy 500 track,” David said earlier in the day. “this was a rough day for everyone.”

58th Annual Indiana Governor’s Cup
July 6, 2008 Madison, Indiana
2-1/2 mile course on the Ohio River
Number Boat Driver Finishes Pts.
U-5 Formulaboats.com Jeff Bernard 2 1 1 1170
U-6 Oh Boy! Oberto Steve David 1 1 2 1200
U-7 Formulaboats.com Mike Allen 3 2 3 800
U-50 Spirit of the Navy Brian Perkins 2 2 5 767
U-37 Miss Beacon Plumbing Jean Theoret 3 3 4 699
U-10 Ahern Rentals David Bryant 1 W/D - 460
U-100 Mirageboats.com Greg Hopp 4 DNS 6 294
U-3 Miss Chrysler Jeep Jimmy King DNF W/D - 0


[Reprinted from Thunderboat, September 2008]