Possible H1 Meeting Topics

H1 Unlimited Hydroplane Racing Annual Meeting
Courtesy H1 Unlimited

In New Year’s Resolution for H1, we explored in quite some depth, a suggested topic for the upcoming Annual Meeting January 13 and 14. Our focus was on taking a look at how to revitalize and diversify the fan base for a much stronger future.

That exercise took us very narrow (only one topic) and very deep (more words than you probably wanted to read!) Today, we’ll take a different approach.

Wide and Shallow

No, not a description of a race course, but a broader-brush stroke at identifying additional topics that may appear on the H1 Unlimited Annual Meeting agenda. But let’s be clear: we’re just fans – fans who try to keep tabs on the pulse of the sport. Through public online forums, social media discussions, and other online content, we simply lick our thumbs, stick them in the air, and guess which way the wind is blowing to help us identify what could be discussed at this year’s meeting.

One perfect example of these widely available perspectives is the wealth of information published regularly by the Unlimited NewsJournal. You can read for yourself the current message of H1 Unlimited’s new Chairman, Doug Bernstein in the January edition. (Scroll about half-way down.)


This would be a good time to recognize the year round efforts by H1 Unlimited and the various working groups. These groups meet throughout the year and report back to the H1 Board of Directors. There is considerable thought and effort expended throughout the year to make for an effective Annual Meeting in January.

One example is the Rules Committee. This group is made up of a cross section of stakeholders and actively solicits input from a wide array of perspectives. Owners, crew chiefs, referees, and drivers are all consulted leading up to each annual meeting. The Rules Committee is responsible for formally proposing rule changes that are evaluated during the meeting. Action may or may not be taken.

As we can all imagine, the Rules Committee has an active role in virtually every Annual Meeting. However, there are always many topics to address. The remainder of the final agenda is set by the Chairman and Board of Directors, with input from owners during their regular conference calls, along with race sites and other working groups.

This is just a quick and easy glimpse into an important, and very substantial effort to steer the complicated sport of Unlimited Hydroplane Racing.

Agenda Day Dreamin’

As we began to wonder what topics would be the areas of focus during this year’s H1 Unlimited Annual Meeting January 13 and 14, we started asking ourselves some questions. You’ll see those below, along with our thoughts about the topics. Please think about what’s taken place over the last year or two, what has piqued your interest, and suggest your own ideas in the comments below.

1. Reorganization

Will H1 Unlimited’s Structure Change?

Following up on the Resolutions discussion previously, it’s possible (though very unlikely) a complete re-tooling of the sanctioning body will be on the table.

We believe only a minority of stakeholders at this point are not convinced the equal partnership between team owners and race sites is fair (working out as originally envisioned.) If not this year, though… maybe the future?

2. Revenue Sharing

Will Race Teams Get More Money?

It is likely team owners will want to discuss revenue generating options that would increase their compensation. As we mentioned in our H1 Unlimited Resolutions post, some owners have become increasingly frustrated with the stagnation of
 race site payments, known as Tow Money.

Some have started questioning whether or not they want to continue racing. One proposal was addressed during last year’s meeting, but it didn’t get any traction. We believe other options are being discussed by team owners and they may get a more formal hearing this time around.

It is important to remember though, it’s not just race teams looking for sources of additional revenue. The race sites themselves are under “profit pressures.” In some cases though, the pressures could turn coal into diamonds. The Madison Regatta isn’t currently looking to “increase profitability” but rather, they are just looking at ways to pay off their debt and restructure for a sustaining future.

The unfortunate reality is that while the fun associated with Unlimited Hydroplane Racing is virtually unlimited, available resources are not.

3. Start Procedure

Will We See Trolling Starts Again?

The Minimum 80 MPH rule could be debated (again) with some advocating for a “let them race” approach. That means we could see “trolling” starts come back in 2017. There are many who agree the current strobe light system used to judge and enforce just isn’t working.

4. Overall Officiating

Will Course Calls and Enforcement Improve?

In an effort to shore up credibility of the sport, we anticipate multiple proposals to be discussed, some involving boat-to-shore telemetry. This would be for referees’ use in judging infractions. Fans are put off by the continuous flip-flopping on judgment calls along with embarrassing delays waiting for official outcomes. A number of approaches have been tried in the past with mixed results, most missing the mark.

5. Helicopters vs. Drones

Will Helicopters Replace Drones?

H1 Unlimited has experimented with drones in the past to replace helicopters in course judging, with mixed results. Drone technology has vastly improved in the past couple of years, and may be a reliable option now.

However, there are a number of headwinds that may hinder advancing this strategy, in spite of it being a worthwhile effort. One example is Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations, some specific to individual race sites such as Seattle, will need to be addressed. Additionally, two race sites sell rides on the helicopters to help offset their cost, so there becomes a financial impact that would need to be addressed. Not impossible, but not easy, either.

Your Thoughts

Here at UnlimitedHydroplaneRacing.com, we’re fans just like you. These are our guesses for what could be on the upcoming H1 Unlimited Annual Meeting agenda.

  • What other questions have you been asking yourself?
  • What would you add to the list?
  • Where to you think we’re off base?

Please weigh in on our list, add your own items, or tell us why one of ours isn’t on yours. Remember, open and honest communication and debate is healthy for the sport. Let’s do what we can to help.

I’m sure I speak for all Unlimited Hydroplane Racing fans when I say I hope the Annual Meeting is a productive and effective meeting that solidifies the sport for a very healthy future.

UHR Dave

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