(2 0 0 7) S a n D i e g o




By Bill Center ... UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER ... September 17, 2007 ... Last September, Steve David lost the most exciting Unlimited Hydroplane race ever on Mission Bay – while winning the national championship. Yesterday, the 53-year-old driver's fortunes had a strange reversal. He won probably the second-most exciting, boat-for-boat race on Mission Bay – hours after losing the national championship. Which would he prefer? “All I know is that I feel a lot happier right now than I did after the finish of last year's race,” said the driver of the turbine-powered Oh! Boy Oberto. “You never give back a championship, but winter is approaching. . . . We're going to be the winner of the most recent race for a long time.” Plus, the victory was David's first on Mission Bay and marked the first time that Oh! Boy Oberto, which is owned by the community of Madison, Ind., has won back-to-back races. David also drove the boat to victory last month in Seattle after Dave Villwock's Ellstrom Elam Plus – which claimed the national driver and boat titles during yesterday's preliminary heats – won the season's first four races. David averaged a record 151.445 mph for five laps around the 2½-mile Bill Muncey Memorial course on East Mission Bay, eclipsing the mark for a 12½-mile championship heat of 151.425 set by Mark Evans and Miss Budweiser in 1996. But it was the Oberto's ability to go slow that was the likely deciding factor in its victory. David claimed the favored inside lane during the prestart jostling for position and held on to the shortest track around the course while going down the backstretch at a pedestrian 25 mph on the parade lap. “When we built this new hull last winter, we knew we could build a fast boat,” said David. “But we also wanted to build a boat that could maintain a plane (riding on top of the water) and directional control at extremely low speeds for the prestart maneuvering.” The ability gave David both the lead and the inside lane for as long as he could hold the lead. Although 25-year-old Jeff Bernard pushed the nose of FormulaBoats.com – formerly the Miss Budweiser championship hull – into the lead on several occasions, he could never lead by enough to cross in front of David and claim the inside track. David and Bernard raced side-by-side for 3½ laps, the boats actually bumping in the first turn of the fourth lap. Any contact between boats traveling at close to 200 mph in choppy water is not good. “We both unhooked from the water at the same time,” said David, whose hull suffered a little cosmetic damage to the right sponson. “He bounced in and I bounced out. “Jeff is quite a driver. He's the future of the sport. I'm in caretaker mode.” When the boats got back to the East Vacation Isle pits, David flashed two thumbs up across the docks to Bernard. “I am not a dirty driver,” said Bernard. “We both hit rollers and the boats got light. I was coming in and he was going out. That was my first final heat ever where I got to race like that.” And it was some race, the five other finalists, including Villwock, becoming footnotes. David won the start and led the first lap. But Bernard ran him down going down the back straightaway of the second lap and crossed the start-finish line with the lead just before the bumping incident. Bernard again led at the end of the backstretch, although David reclaimed the advantage at the line. It was going into the first turn of the fourth lap that Bernard had a decisive bobble – his hull bouncing out of the water as it crossed a roller. “A second in the air like that is about 300 feet on the water,” David said. And 300 feet gave David clear sailing.

Note: Dave Villwock claimed his record ninth Unlimited Hydroplane driver's championship by driving Ellstrom Elam Plus to victory in heat 2A.

FINAL HEAT ...

U-6 Oh Boy! Oberto, Steven David ... 151.445
U-5 FormulaBoats.com, Jeff Bernard ... 149.724
U-37 Beacon Plumbing, Jean Theoret ... 143.156
U-1 FormulasBoats.com, Mike Allen ... 134.083
U-13 Spirit of Detroit, JM Kelly ... 106.320
U-10 Miss Ahern Rentals, David Bryant ... DNF
U-16 Miss ELAM Plus, Dave Villwock ... DNF

Provisional Results ...

U-1 FormulasBoats.com, Mike Allen ... 141.706
U-25 Superior Racing, Ken Muscatel ... 138.510

HEAT 3A Official Results ...

U-5 FormulaBoats.com, Jeff Bernard ... 152.151
U-10 Miss Ahern Rentals, David Bryant ... 150.874
U-13 Spirit of Detroit, JM Kelly ... 103.252
U-1 FormulasBoats.com, Mike Allen ... N2
U-48 Lakeridge Paving, David Williams ... withdrew

HEAT 3B Official Results ...

U-16 Miss ELAM Plus, Dave Villwock ... 151.902
U-6 Oh Boy! Oberto, Steven David ... 143.976
U-25 Superior Racing, Ken Muscatel ... 131.652
U-37 Beacon Plumbing, Jean Theoret ... DNF

HEAT 2A Official Results ...

U-16 Miss ELAM Plus, Dave Villwock ... 150.009
U-37 Beacon Plumbing, Jean Theoret ... 147.554
U-10 Miss Ahern Rentals, David Bryant ... 143.892
U-13 Spirit of Detroit, JM Kelly ... 129.621
U-25 Superior Racing, Ken Muscatel ... DNS

HEAT 2B Official Results ...

U-5 FormulaBoats.com, Jeff Bernard ... 149.477
U-6 Oh Boy! Oberto, Steven David ... 146.640
U-1 FormulasBoats.com, Mike Allen ... 144.116
U-48 Lakeridge Paving, David Williams ... 117.750
U-21 Miss All Access, Brian Perkins ... withdrew

HEAT 1A Official Results ...

U-37 Beacon Plumbing, Jean Theoret ... 146.337
U-13 Spirit of Detroit, JM Kelly ... 138.120
U-25 Superior Racing, Ken Muscatel ... 127.614
U-5 FormulaBoats.com, Jeff Bernard ... 113.311
U-16 Miss ELAM Plus, Dave Villwock ... DNF

HEAT 1B Official Results ...

U-1 FormulaBoats.com, Mike Allen ... 148.488
U-6 Oh Boy! Oberto, Steven David ... 144.594
U-10 Miss Ahern Rentals, David Bryant ... 144.324
U-48 Lakeridge Paving, David Williams ... DNF
U-21 Miss All Access, Brian Perkins ... DNS

Qualifying Speeds ...

U16 Miss E-Lam Plus ... Dave Villwock ... 165.386
U37 Beacon Plumbing ... Jean Theoret ... 163.371
U6 Oh Boy! Oberto ... Steve David ... 159.798
U10 Miss Ahern Rentals ... David Bryant ... 158.951
U5 FormulaBoats.com ... Jeff Bernard ... 158.867
U21 Miss All Access ... Brian Perkins ... 152.191
U13 Spirit of Detroit ... JM Kelly ... 151.757
U48 Miss Lakeridge ... David Williams ... 147.183
U25 Superior Racing ... Ken Muscatel ... 148.079
U1 FormulaBoats.com ... Mike Allen ... 130.000 (N2)