2018 SNHL Columbia Cup Race Recap
The mighty Columbia river saw 16 of the worlds fastest hydroplanes compete for the highly sought after Columbia Cup in the sizzling heat of Tri-Cities, Washington. Expecting some of the best racing on the planet, fans left Sunday feeling extremely satisfied after witnessing their favorite teams roar down the river deck to deck at over 200 MPH. The Water Follies weekend was full of shock and awe moments with qualifying being the setting stone for the race weekend with Eddie Kanfoush in the U-8 Llumar Window Films knocking off Nicholas Miller in the U-9 Les Schwab Tires in qualifications for 1st. With the hull nearly taking flight several times, Eddie flew the Llumar to a staggering 162.486 MPH lap, which not only set the fastest lap in SNHL history, but destroyed the Les Schwab's reigning qualifying streak. With 4 flights of heat with at least 5 boats starting in each heat, it was bound to be an exciting Columbia Cup weekend.
The first flight saw plenty of interesting storylines begin to take shape with the Les Schwab getting a solid 1A victory, David Johnson in the U-20 Appian Jeronimo claiming his first win in the SNHL in 1B, and Codee Guyll in the U-16 Oh Boy! Oberto getting a surprise heat 1C victory after top qualifier Eddie Kanfoush jumped the gun by a landslide. In the 2nd flight of heats, he Albert Lee Appliance and Matt Johnson got a huge win in 2A over a fast Eddie Kanfoush, Cale Bruce in the Smokin Joes redeemed himself from a 6th place finish to a heat 2B win, and Beau Rarig got a solid 2C victory in the Miss Budweiser. 3A saw a good deck to deck battle with Peyton Hopp in the Degree Men taking the win over the Bud, Cei Bowen got a huge win in 3B against a tough competitor in Cale Bruce, and his teammate Eddie Kanfoush got a dominating victory in 3C. In the final flight of preliminary heats, it all came down to the wire for some teams that would determine whether they would make the Columbia Cup final. Back to back wins in 4A propelled the Llumar team to the Columbia Cup final, Cale Bruce in the Smokin' Joes finished the prelims strong with a 4B win after a destructive and confrontational heat, and the Tide captured another big win in 4C to give him a guaranteed spot in the final.
The consolation was action packed as it was the last chance opportunity for anyone to claim the last spot in the Columbia Cup. 6 boats entered the consolation after dealing with 100 degree heat all weekend long and trying to overcome their mistakes to be eligible for the final. Nicholas Miller, who surprisingly found himself in the final, nailed the start and never looked back as a hard charging Peyton Hopp in the Degree men could not chase down the flighty Les Schwab Tires as he blew over in the final lap trying to catch him. Nick would advance on as the trailer in the final heat, with Mickey Washburn in the Oberto being the only other driver to complete the heat finishing 2nd.
The Oberto team had a somewhat successful weekend despite not making the final as Mickey finds himself 6th in the points standings. With his current positioning, the Oberto team is on pace to finish the year off strong as Mickey has a boost of confidence after a good weekend.
"Although we missed the final we had a good weekend if the front wing didn’t malfunction we would’ve been in the final. It was working again for the conny and it ran good I just jumped the gun. So now we are looking forward to Seattle my sponsors home race and looking to keep improving each race."
Another team that barely missed the final was the Schumacher racing entry of Peyton Hopp and the Degree Men. After a consistent showing at the Columbia Cup, an unfortunate driver error that cost him everything in 4B ruined the chances of earning a spot in the final heat. The agony of defeat once again went to the way of Peyton Hopp as he will have to wait another race for a chance at making his first final. While Peyton admittedly made a crucial mistake, he takes value in his driver errors that can potentially push him to become a better driver.
"After the heat 4B incident, I was devastated for the Degree Men team after we had such a big run in the prelims just for me to mess it all up for the team and be at fault. We worked too hard not to make it into the final at Tri-Cities and I'm sure my mistake will haunt me for quite some time. Despite the heart break, we still had a heck of a weekend and have the potential to improve further as all I can do is forget about the past and think about the future. We have some deck repairs that need to be made, but we look forward to Seattle and are striving to make our first final this season."
The 2018 Columbia Cup final saw 7 of the fastest unlimiteds that proved to be the ones to beat enter in to fight side by side for the prestigious Columbia Cup. The drivers included Eddie Kanfoush in the U-8 Llumar Window Films, Cei Bowen in the U-8 Tide, Cale Bruce in the U-10 Smokin' Joes, Beau Rarig in the U-12 Miss Budweiser, Codee Guyll in the U-16 Oh Boy! Oberto, Matt Johnson in the U-21 Albert Lee Appliance, and Nicholas Miller in the U-9 Les Schwab Tires as the trailer. The start of the Columbia Cup saw 7 powerhouse unlimited's roar down the front stretch with Matt Johnson in the Albert Lee blasting out in front entering turn 1 with the Llumar on his inside and the Tide on his outside. We saw a thrilling 2 lap battle between the Albert Lee and Llumar with the Tide in close pursuit on the outside. The high flying Eddie Kanfoush eventually got the lead and never looked back as a battle for 2nd then came to place between the Albert Lee and Tide. Cei Bowen found a hole to shoot through to the inside of Matt and took it as he was able to steal 2nd place from the Albert Lee team. 4th place was Nicholas Miller after a tough fight to the front from the trailer position, 5th was Beau Rarig, 6th was Codee Guyll, and 7th was Cale Bruce.
After 2 dominating performances in back to back races, Eddie Kanfoush is sitting on cloud 9 with an extension to his points lead. A combination of talent and clutch ability has lead the Llumar team to massive success in the first half of the season. Considering the amount of success, Eddie is feeling confident heading into the 2nd half of the season in hopes of securing the first ever SNHL championship.
"I’m feeling pretty solid at the moment. The boats behind me are hungry for wins and they are very fast, so I need to be consistent. My boat has felt great at each race and the team has worked super hard to get us where we are now. I’m gonna keep looking at each race like I have all year. I’m just gonna run my race and try and put the U-8 Llumar Window Film boat on top!"
Cei Bowen's consistency paid off in a substantial way at the Columbia Cup with not only a 2nd place finish in the final but moved up in the points standings behind his Wurster teammate in 2nd ahead of Nicholas Miller. After a rough start to the Wurster stable, both team members were able to comeback from their early struggles as they both find themselves 1-2 in the national high points. After an early season hiccup, the Tide has been on a roll as Cei looks to continue his impressive run at Seattle.
" I had two heats that did not go in my favor. A 3rd place at first and a 5th (80 mph violation and jumping the gun) which didn’t help me at all. But ended up coming back and winning my last two heats. I feel like those last two heats and the final have given me momentum to use for the next race. If everything goes to plan I could start gaining points on Eddie and hoping that he makes mistakes. Just gonna be a long battle for the top spot in points."
After missing out on the first race of the year in Guntersville, Matt Johnson in the Albert Lee Appliance has come on as one of the more up and coming competitors in the SNHL and after an explosive Tri-Cities race, he currently resides 5th in points after only 2 races. Proving to be one of the more resilient drivers on the circuit, Matt had quite the weekend at Tri-Cities that ended off with a solid podium finish in the final. After a stunning weekend, Matt has the potential to reap the rewards with a top 5 finish in national high points.
"The biggest change is after missing the first race of the season I was just shooting for a top 10 finish but now after Madison and Tri-Cities I know a top 5 finish is definitely within reach. I'm really happy with the result at Tri-Cities and I'm proud of the 21 team for giving me a fast boat to compete with. My main goals have been to be consistent, keep the boat upright and get points in every heat, and I think I've proven that to be a successful strategy. For the rest of the season I'm definitely going to stick with that strategy and I'm confident that I can put myself in a good position to finish high in the standings."
Finishing just outside the podium after a much earned 4th place finish from the trailer, it was a rather difficult weekend for the Les Schwab Tires crew and Nicholas Miller. After narrowly missing the top qualifier spot, things just didn't get much better for one of the fastest drivers in the series. A stroke of bad luck as well as making the final through the consolation heat resulted in a loss of position in the points standings as Miller dropped to 3rd. At the midway point of the season, the Les Schwab Tires team just has to regroup and look forward to the next weekend as Nicholas Miller prepares for Seafair.
"I made a few too many mistakes in the preliminary heats. I just got to learn from them and keep charging forward. I am very excited for Seattle. It's my hometown race. Winning there would be very special."
For the Miss Budweiser and Beau Rarig, Tri-Cities was a solid weekend but could have been better given the current national high point circumstances. The Bud was very quick on the Columbia River but just could get the job done in the final as they settled for 5th. With the 2nd half of the season set to get underway at Seattle, the Budweiser team will look to gain ground on the top 3 in points and hope to get back to victory lane. In fact, their simplistic strategy is to "Win every race" as put by Beau Rarig after the Tri-Cities final.
The Columbia Cup in Tri-Cities, Washington describes the ideal hydroplane racing atmosphere as fans were on their feet all day long for the action packed racing that took part. Marked as a must-see event on the tour, many drivers agree that Tri-Cities makes for some of the best racing you'll see all season long and that remark was certainly on display at this year's Columbia Cup!