Water Follies racers prepare for a HOT weekend in their hydroplanes

KENNEWICK, Wash. — The Tri-City Water Follies kick off their weekend-long event on Friday, and one thing we know—it’s going to be hot. Not just for everyone in attendance, but especially for the drivers of those hydroplanes.

“It’s miserable in there,” said Ed Preston, driver of the Jagoe Homes GP-20, referring to the temperature inside his hydroplane.

A summer of racing for these boaters, and just like a car, when the drivers get into the hydroplanes, it’s not just hot…it’s scorching.

“I just sit in there and sweat my you-know-what’s off,” Preston said.

Each crew has their tricks on how to stay cool:

Preston said, “We just stay really hydrated. We drink so much water. It’s ridiculous.”

Not only do they drink a lot of water, but several drivers have invested in cooling vests that keep the drivers.

“I ended up buying a cool vest. I’m gonna try that out this weekend, and see if it will help keep my body temp down,” said J. Michael Kelly, the driver of Miss Tri-Cities. “We even put my helmet that I wear in the freezer.”

Dave Villwock, the driver of Miss Beacon Plumbing said, “Try to hydrate and you know, take care of yourself. Stay out of the heat the rest of the day.”

Record-high temps for the weekend

This week in particular is unforgiving, with Friday bringing the hottest temps across the Tri-Cities.

Villwock said, “That’s the hottest we’ve ever been in, I think, and competed.”

And perhaps one of the most interesting jobs at the Follies; each racer has their own umbrella carrier to keep them cool until they get into their hydroplanes.

J. Michael Kelly said, “Yeah, that would be my father.”

His father, Jeff Kelly said, “Well, I’m Dad. And I kind of do everything that I can to help on the boat.”

J. Michael Kelly said, “He will hold the umbrella over just to keep the sun out of the boat. It does, it does help.”

His father said, “It’s very important to keep him safe so that it keeps everybody else safe.”

As hot as the boat races will be, it’s not stopping any of the racers from competing, especially in the Tri-Cities.

“This is one of our favorite race sites, in all of our different places that we go, this is where we love to be,” said Preston.

The Water Follies bring a lot of community support, and many drivers expressed their love for the Columbia River’s course in particular

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