Whether you are new to Tri-Cities Water Follies aka the 'Boat Races' or an old pro, here are some fun facts you may not know about the 53rd Annual Columbia Cup.

Photo by Stacy Lee
  • WHY ARE SOME HYDROS NAMED ‘MISS’? -One of the most enduring traditions of boating is the concept of naming a vessel. Boats are historically named after women, although it has always been a bit of a mystery as to why this tradition exists. There are three prominent theories. One hypothesizes that boats were named after goddesses and other mythical figures, and later shifted to popular feminine names as recognition of gods and goddesses faded. The second theory focuses on the basis of European languages. A number of languages, such as German and French, have a complex system of gender involving grammatical terms in which objects are assigned specific masculine or feminine tones. Olde English also used this system of naming, with many inanimate objects such as boats, referred to in the feminine form. As the English language changed and evolved, the tradition continued and is still present today.  The third relates more specifically to race boats and their owners. In the early days of boat racing they were named after mothers and wives as a gesture to keep the peace at home.  This last tradition has developed to acknowledge the marine heritage and the sponsors and teams of today.
  • ROCKET MEN - When two H1 Unlimited hydroplane drivers at this weekend’s HAPO Columbia Cup are not driving their hydroplanes, they are working and dreaming about space. Jimmy Shane, driver of U-1 Miss HomeStreet, and Aaron Salmon, driver of the U-99.9 CARSTAR powers Miss Rock, both work at Blue Origin, LLC, an aerospace manufacturer and spaceflight services company that is headquartered in Kent, Wash., and owned by Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon. Also, Miss HomeStreet’s technical performance engineer, Jimmy Gilbert, is a retired NASA senior scientist who worked on the Apollo missions.
  • WOMEN IN THE H1 UNLIMITED HYDROPLANE RACING - Cindy Shirley (Everett, Wash.) became the first woman crew chief to manage a team (U-1 Miss HomeStreet) to victory lane on July 8, 2018 at the 68th annual Indiana Governor’s Cup. She was named crew chief of the national champion team during the off season. The first female crew chief was Carol Lee in 1975. Other prominent women participants this weekend include Lori Jones (Kent, Wash.), co-owner of the U-9 Les Schwab Tires; Shannon Raney (Bothell, Wash.), co-owner of the U-11 Reliable Diamond Tool presents J&D’s; Stacey Briseno (Kirkland, Wash.), team operator of the U-99.9 CARSTAR powers Miss Rock; and Sharon Stocklin (Edmonds, Wash), co-owner of the U-440 Bucket List Racing. The sport hasn’t had a woman driver compete since the 1981 and ‘82 seasons when Brenda Jones raced. Bianca Bononcini, now married to driver Jimmy Shane, attempted to qualify as a driver at several races in 2011.